Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Dr Daniel Smith

Dr Daniel Smith


+44 (0) 29 2251 1098
Rm 2.11, Glamorgan Building
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I am a cultural sociologist with interests in the ways social and cultural forms transform and preserve themselves in new and changing contexts.

Currently I am in the process of completing a monograph to published with Manchester University Press entitled The Fall and Rise of Britain's Upper-Classes: Houses, Kinship and Capital since 1945 (2022). The central argument is that "class" is the idiom through which British subjects confront their own Otherness, how they remain excluded from the very forms of identity they claim to be living with and in. Taking the debates of cultural division and political opposition after the 2016 'Brexit Vote' as its starting point, the book examines the faultlines of British society captured in the writing, practices and cultural sensibilities of Britain's purportedly 'traditional' upper class. 

In Elites, Race and Nationhood: The Branded Gentry I examined how young, overwhelmingly 'white', upper-middle class persons orientated themselves to changing landscapes of wealth and privilege, and how brand-name corporations come to transform and reconstitute traditional forms of elite sociability and exclusivity.

In Comedy & Critique I examine the use of humour in the fashioning of New Left political sensibilities. I explore in this work the way in which the stand-up form - the humorous, solipsistic exploration of self and identity - becomes the sensuous expression of New Left politics, and the limits this has for modes of critique.

In my work on digital sociability, specifically YouTube video-blogging, I examine how the category of 'celebrity' is moblised by YouTube users to ask and address questions around self-expression, the value and limits of individualism, ethical considerations around mutual acknowledgement of one-another, and to dramatise the power-structures of digital sociability itself.

My work has been publicised on various online and print news websites: The Times Higher Education, The Independent, The Times, Prospect Magazine, Vice, and The Conversation. Discussion of Elites, Race and Nationhood: The Branded Gentry can be found on BBC Radio 4 flagship social science programme, Thinking Allowed.


My undergraduate degree was in History & Sociology (BA Hons) and my PhD was in Sociology, both at the University of Exeter. At Exeter my PhD, a cultural sociological study of elite group identity and sociability, consisted of an ethnographic study of the lifeworld and practices of a group of 18-24 year "upper-middle class" people who were of particular interest to the heritage clothing company, Jack Wills. My ethnography took me from polo fields in the south of England, to ski slopes in the Alps, to expensive sea-side towns in the West of England. (A hard life...). It was at Exeter that I developed my general interests in the sociological classics, esp. Georg Simmel, the sociology of art and artworks, and more broadly approaches to cultural sociology and ethnographic studies. Outside of an interest in the lifestyle of elites, I maintain a keen interest in the lifeworld of stand-up comedy and comedians, as well as an interest in the cultural forms of online, digital sociability.

Aelodaethau proffesiynol

  • Fellow of the British Higher Education Academy (2015 – present)
  • Member of the British Sociological Association (2014- present)

Safleoedd academaidd blaenorol

  • 2019 -present       Lecturer in Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University.
  • 2016-2018            Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University.
  • 2015-2016            Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University.
  • 2013-2015            Lecturer in Sociology, School of Psychology, Politics & Sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University.
  • 2010-2013            Graduate Teaching Assistant in Sociology & Anthropology, Department of Philosophy, Sociology & Anthropology, University of Exeter.

Ymrwymiadau siarad cyhoeddus

  • Smith, Daniel R. (2020) ‘The Clown Paradox: Notes toward a cultural sociology stand-up comedy and mental health’, paper presented to the Ethnography Group: Cardiff University, 15th January 2020.

  • Smith, Daniel R. (2018) ‘Stand-up comedy after abjection: New Left hegemony and ‘millennial humour’’, paper delivered at the International Sociological Association Annual Conference, ‘Theorising and Researching the Arts and Popular Culture’, 15-21th July, 2018.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2018) ‘On ‘gentry aesthetics’ and elite world-making: competing economies of worth in elite identities and practices’, Invited seminar paper at University of Loughborough, May 2nd 2018.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2018), ‘The Haunting of Gentry Distinction: Merit, fairness and distributive justice in an economy of branded capital’, Keynote Speaker at the BSA Merit or Meritocracy Conference, University of Newcastle, April 9th 2018.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2016), ‘Post-colonial conviviality and melancholia in ‘real ale’ discourse: The hangover of Empire’, paper delivered at the Drinking Studies Network: Identities and Diversities Research Cluster at the University of Leicester, September 13th 2016. [A revised paper was distributed to ‘Artisan: Crafting Alternative Economies, Making Alternative Lives’ delegates at the University of the West of England (11/09/2018)].
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2016) “Gentry Distinction: How to be ‘Not-Quite Upper' but ‘More Than Middle' Class in Neo-Liberal Britain”, paper delivered at the International Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Vienna July 11th 2016.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2016) ‘The Branded Gentry: elite identity and sociality in the era of global capitalism’, paper delivered at the British Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Aston, April 6th 2016.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2016) ITV’s Broadchurch as Country Noir: Allegory and post-colonial nostalgia in the English countryside, paper delivered at Fiction and the Social Imaginary conference at the University of York, March 14th 2016.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2016) ‘Branded Gentry: elite social reproduction in the 21st century’, Invited paper delivered at University of East Anglia, January 20th 2016.
  • Smith, Daniel R. (2015) ‘Jack Wills & the gent-rification of English masculinities’ paper delivered at the British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, April 10th 2015.

Pwyllgorau ac adolygu

I have acted as a peer-reviewer for the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, The Sociological Review, Qualitative Research, Social Analysis, Time & Society, New Media and Society, Global Society, Journal of Children & Media, Convergence, and Performance Paradigm.













I contribute to modules across the undergraduate programme in the School of Social Sciences. 

My research interests are in:

  • Sociology of elites and social class (esp. British upper(middle) class identities; consumption practices and lifestyle orientations)
  • Sociology of celebrity (esp. internet/social media celebrity; ideologies of fame; celebrity and (para-) sociality; celebrity and selfhood)
  • Sociology of new social media and digital sociologies (esp. YouTube; Video-blogging; Self-presentation).
  • Sociology of the arts (esp. stand-up comedy): aesthetics and social structures; humour and critique; modernity and humour; humour and identity politics)
  • Social and cultural theory (narrative; myths; semiotics; performances; aesthetics and social life)


I am interested in supervising work on:

  • Social class
  • Elites
  • Sociology of art and culture
  • Comedy
  • Celebrity culture
  • New Social Media
  • Cultural and social theory