Dr Daniel Smith

Course Leader, MA Sociology;

Senior Lecturer, Sociology

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Department:School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Sociology , Ethnography

Courses taught: Sociology, Criminology and Sociology, Sociology

Daniel’s expertise is broadly in the sociology of class, culture and identity. His research interests include elite identities, Britishness, as well as popular culture, celebrity and new social media.




Daniel joined Anglia Ruskin University in August 2015, prior to which he was Lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University (2013-2015). His academic background is in history and sociology, and he completed his PhD in Sociology at the University of Exeter in 2013.

Daniel’s research is broadly within the realm of cultural sociology. His cultural sociological approach to the study of elites and British social class can be found in his book, Elites, Race and Nationhood: The Branded Gentry, published in 2016 by Palgrave MacMillan. He also has an interest in the sociology of art and artworks, especially the sociological significance of stand-up comedy. His latest book, Comedy & Critique: Stand-up Comedy and the professional ethos of laughter is to be published by Bristol University Press in 2018.

Alongside his interest in the cultural sociology of class and elites, arts and artworks, Daniel also writes and researches on the sociology of celebrity and new social media. This research has produced studies of YouTube celebrities, explored the peculiar social and political ideologies of fame in YouTuber subcultures, and a theory of the video-blog.

Daniel became a sociologist partly out of a desire to turn bookishness and ‘thinking too much’ into a career, but more importantly after being inspired by his, and other people’s, lecturers while at university. Either through the classroom, or reading the work of university academics, Daniel became committed to the idea that a university education is so much more than a ticket to the graduate labour market: it is a means to acquire knowledge that cultivates the mind and character of citizens. University is an entry into a world of critical thinking, rigorous debate and considered arguments, cemented in methodical research. This ethos of a university education inspires and drives Daniel’s teaching and supervisor of students at Anglia Ruskin University. It is his hope that students at Anglia Ruskin learn the joy and freedom a ‘life of the mind’ offers after their time studying with us.

Areas of research supervision

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


Daniel is Module Leader for undergraduate modules Inequality & Class, Social Divisions, Sociology of Popular Culture, and for postgraduate modules Contemporary Social Theory and the Special Subject.

Current modules taught:

  • Inequality & Class
  • Social Divisions
  • Sociology of Popular Culture
  • Contemporary Social Theory
  • Special Subject: Contemporary debates in sociology


  • PhD Sociology, Exeter
  • BA (Hons), History & Sociology, Exeter
  • PGCert in Learning & Teaching, Canterbury Christ Church

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Fellow of the HEA
  • Member of the British Sociological Association

Selected recent publications


Smith, Daniel R. (2018), Comedy & Critique: Stand-up comedy and the professional ethos of laughter. (Bristol: University of Bristol Press).

Smith, Daniel R. (2016), Elites, Race and Nationhood: The Branded Gentry, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)

Journal articles

Smith, Daniel R. & King, Anthony, (2017) 'The Jack Wills Crowd: toward a sociology of an elite subculture', British Journal of Sociology: DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12254.

Smith, Daniel R. (2017), 'The Tragedy of Self in Digitised Popular Culture: The existential consequences of metricised fame on YouTube', Qualitative Research, 17(6):699-714.

Smith, Daniel R. (2017), 'Ethnography amongst the British upper-middle classes: Writing about or writing a gentry class?', SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Smith, Daniel., 2016. 'Imagining others more complexly': Celebrity and the ideology of fame among YouTube's 'Nerdfighteria', Celebrity Studies, 7(3):399-353.

Smith, D., 2015. Self-Heckle: Russell Kane’s stand up as an example of 'comedic sociology'. Ephemera: theory & politics in organisation, 15(3), pp.561-579.

Smith, D., 2014. The Gent-rification of English masculinities: class, race and nation in contemporary consumption. Social Identities: Journal for the study of Race, Nation and Culture, 20(4-6), pp.391-406.

Smith, D., 2014. Charlie-is-so-"English"-like: nationality and the branded-celebrity person in the age of YouTube. Celebrity Studies, 5(3), pp.256-274.

Smith, D., 2014. The Elite Ethic of Fiduciarity: the heraldry of the Jack Wills brand. Ephemera: theory & politics in organisation, 14(1), pp.81-107.

Book chapters

Smith, Daniel., 2012. 'Reciprocity, Recognition and Moral Worth in the Wizarding Economy' in Simms, J. (ed.), The Sociology of Harry Potter, (Hamden, CT: Zossima Press)

Review articles

Smith, Daniel R. (2016), 'Presumed Intimacy: Para-social relationships in media, society and celebrity culture by Chris Rojek', Cultural Sociology, 10(4):538-550.

Smith, D., 2015. Norbert Elias and social theory. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(3), pp.474-486.

Online articles:

Smith, Daniel R. (2017) 'How Gavin & Stacey won awards by poking fun at the English-Welsh rivalry', The Conversation.

Smith, Daniel R. (2017) 'The meritocracy is a smokescreen for inherited privilege', The Conversation, reprinted in The Independent.

Smith, Daniel R. (2016) 'The Upper Classes in the Twenty First Century', Discover Society.

Smith, Daniel R. (2016), 'ITV's Broadchurch as a Country Noir: Allegory and post-colonial nostalgia in the English countryside', Theory, Culture & Society.

Recent presentations and conferences

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', 15-21 July, 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, 13 September 2016.

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 11 July 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, 6 April 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, 14 March 2016.

Smith, Daniel R. (2016) 'Branded Gentry: elite social reproduction in the 21st century', Invited paper delivered at University of East Anglia, 20 January 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, 10 April 2015.

Media experience

Daniel has written for various online news websites, his work has been covered in The Times Higher Education, The Independent, The Times, Prospect Magazine, Vice, and The Conversation. He has also appeared on BBC Radio 4 flagship social science programme, Thinking Allowed.