Sociology of Everyday Life

  • Created by: Rachel LH
  • Created on: 07-09-15 13:15

Section B: Sociology of the Everyday

Everyday life is a phrase used to refer to the ways in which an individual, group or society typically acts, thinks, and feels on a daily basis. The idea involves the definition of the self, and how people conceptualise relationships to the world and others. It involves how people generate, establish, and interpret meaning. The concept of normality can be the sociological and psychological bases for behavioural choices, thoughts and beliefs.

Everyday life may be described as considered mundane, routine, natural or habitual. Human diurnality means most people sleep at least part of the night and are active day time. Most eat two or three meals a day. Workers mostly work on a daily schedule, beginning in the morning. Evening is often leisure time, ‘we must relate these micro - level processes to the macro - level of social order.’ (Scott 2009). Much of everyday life is automatic in that it is driven by current environmental features as meditated by automatic cognitive processing of those features, and without any meditation by conscious choice, according to John A Burgh. 

The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology defines work as the supply of physical, mental, and emotional effort to produce goods and services for own consumption, or for consumption by others. Productive work falls into three main categories: economic activity or employment, unpaid domestic and leisure activities, and volunteer community service.

Regarding work and the everyday, rules and hierarchies are e,bedded in individuals working lives. Workers are engaged in a continual process of negotiation, seeking greater flexibility and control. The degree of control/ flexibility reflects on status. People develop coping strategies to survive and resist repetition/ boredom/ the clock. People modify their workspace and challenge rules in subtle ways. Many employees ‘fiddle’ in various ways in order to redress perceived oppression, e.g. being online. 

Henri Lefebvre, one of the most important French Marxist sociologists of the mid-century, first wrote of everyday life as a mind-numbing, alienating set of social conditions. He book, Critique of Everyday Life, was published in 1947. In it he linked what he called “everydayness” to Marx’s theory of alienation. According to Lefebvre, everydayness was a modern day extension of the grip of alienation, part of the consequence of the rise of a modern form of capitalism. Lefebvre argued that capitalism has gotten so powerful that it had grown beyond organising our productive and social relations in society; it also actually sucked the meaning out of everyday life. Alienation, the feeling of exhaustion, stress and poverty consequential from he act of being forced to sell one’s labour, was experienced more painfully under modern capitalism precisely because the experiences of everyday life outside of work had been invaded by capitalism. Without the genuine meaning and connection that had once taken place in everyday life outside of work, modern workers turned to consumption to fill the gap. The lifestyle of consumption grew stronger and stronger under modern capitalism, and everyday life was marked by the purchase of…




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