Nothing is more taken-for-granted than everyday life: dinner-table conversations, workplace activities, shopping-mall transactions, sidewalk encounters. And yet each situation is shaped by a complex intersection of social forces, individual personalities, moment-to-moment decisions, cultural memes, and institutional histories. This course, designed for MA students in the social sciences and professions, will introduce them to a variety of ways of understanding and analyzing these sorts of quotidian experiences. We will examine talk and non-verbal behavior as they inform activities and relationships; we will look at the ways practical intelligence operates in different situations; we will track cultural differences in everyday behavior. We will consider the ways in which larger social structures and processes – class, race, gender, and so on – are produced, performed, and changed in the course of everyday life, as well as the ways they shape people’s actions and thoughts. Along the way, we will tackle such issues as human agency vs. structural determinism; the processes of social change; and the construction of identity, self, and nation. While the immediate purpose of the course is to unpack the dynamics of everyday life, the larger goal is to consider several broad approaches to social theory and research: the positivist, the interpretivist, and the poststructuralist. These explorations will give students an opportunity to try out various perspectives on their own studies and professional work, and may move them toward clearer conceptions of their theses. Readings may include sections from Karp et al.’s Sociology in Everyday Life ; Rogoff and Lave’s Everyday Cognition ; Geertz’s The Interpretation of Cultures ; Erickson’s Talk and Social Theory , and de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life .