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Daniel Smith

Dr Daniel Smith

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a cultural sociologist with interests in the ways social and cultural forms transform and preserve themselves in new and changing contexts.

In The Fall and Rise of the English Upper-Class: Houses, Kinship and Capital since 1945 (2022) I explore the role traditionalist worldviews, articulated by members of the historic upper-class, have played in British society in the shadow of her imperial and economic decline in the twentieth century. Situating these traditionalist visions alongside Britain's post-Brexit fantasies of global economic resurgence and a socio-cultural return to a green and pleasant land, I examine Britain's Establishment institutions, the estates of her landed gentry and aristocracy, through to an appetite for nostalgic products represented with pastoral or pre-modern symbolism. It is demonstrated that these institutions and pursuits play a central role in situating social, cultural and political belonging. Crucially these institutions and pursuits rely upon a form of membership which is grounded in a kinship idiom centred upon inheritance and descent: who inherits the houses of privilege, inherits England.

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.













Book sections




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 contribute to modules across the undergraduate and post-graduate programme in the School of Social Sciences. 


My undergraduate degree was in History & Sociology (BA Hons) and my PhD was in Sociology, both at the University of Exeter (2007-14). 

Before joining Cardiff in 2019 I worked at Canterbury Christ Church University (2013-2015) and Anglia Ruskin University (2015-2019). 

Professional memberships

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

Academic positions

  • 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.

Committees and reviewing

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 am interested in supervising work on:

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