UCL Anthropology


Everyday Citizens


Everyday Citizens looks at the quotidian experiences of people in different parts of Britain, of different ages and diverse social and ethnic backgrounds and their interaction with each other, and with state and local government infrastructures, private enterprises and other localized political and economic forms. Focal issues under research include marginality, vulnerability and protest, consumption, magic, and social creativity, urban culture and its extremes, reinterpretation of cultural values by migrants to Britain and production of transnational public spheres by Muslims in London. Our most recent projects have explored ethnographically the aesthetics of city riots, the socio-political divisions of protests, and being streetwise in London. Being a citizen and a city dweller also means living with routines like shopping, domestic work and negotiation of autonomy, national food culture, cleaning or sharing houses with grandparents. Ethnographically, we explore the significance of these mundane aspects of everyday life, not least in relation to their material and visual manifestations. Much of this research is encompassed by the My Street and Social Media projects, hosted in the research cluster, which document street life and seek to empower ordinary citizens through film, the tools of visual anthropology, and new social networking technologies like Facebook. Our cluster also has a strong public presence as its research is disseminated online and through multidisciplinary cultural events like One Day in the City and film festivals like the Open City Docs Fest.

Under the direction of Professor Ruth Mace, we are also currently conducting two research projects on contemporary British society from the point of view of human behavioural ecology. Funded by the ERC and the ESRC, the first focuses on family structure and child development in the UK. For the last five years, we have been analysing a cohort of British children (the ALSPAC cohort of children born in Bristol in 1992).  We have found costs of father absence, step-father presence and of sibling competition, in terms of child growth, social development, educational attainment and well-being.  We are now examining the role of social networks, school environment and parental behaviour on adolescent behaviour.

A second project directed by Professor Ruth Mace focuses on Altruism in the city, and is funded by the ERC and the National Foundation of Science of Portugal. The project analyses the social and cultural context of altruistic behaviour, first in London and now in Belfast. We are examining how crime rates, religion and religious homogeneity and other properties of the environment influence your willingness to help strangers, or residents of your neighbourhood, as well as your own general health and well-being. We are using a range of behavioural measures, from Milgram's original 'lost letter' technique to economic games in conjunction with the analysis of socio-demographic databases such as NILS.


Ruth Mace
Daniel Miller
Alex Pillen
Michael Stewart
Sandra Wallman (Professor Emerita)
David Lawson (postdoctoral fellow)
Ana Carolina Balthazar
Emily Emmott
Dia Flores
Bram van Leeuwen
Antonio Silva
Caroline Uggla

Selected Publications

O'Connor, Kaori (2013) The English Breakfast: The Biography of a National Meal, with Recipes. London: Bloomsbury Publishers

Holland, J., Silva, A., Mace, R. (2012). Lost Letter Measure of Variation in Altruistic Behaviour in 20 Neighbourhoods. PLoS One 7(8), e43294 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043294

Lawson, D. W., Mace, R. (2011). Parental investment and the optimization of human family size. Phil. Trans. R Soc.: Biol Sci 366(1563), 333-343

Mace, R. (2010). The evolutionary ecology of the family. British Academy Review 10:18-20

Burikova, Zuzana, and Daniel Miller (2010) Au Pair. Cambridge: Polity Press

Lawson, D. W., Mace, R. (2009). Trade-offs in modern parenting: a longitudinal study of sibling competition for parental care. Evolution and Human Behavior 37(6), 1408-1421

Wallman, Sandra. 2003. The Diversity of Diversity: Implications of the Form and Process of Localised Urban Systems. FEEM [Milan]: Nota di Lavoro 76

Copyright Notice: Header pictures by Devonne Brandys, Juliano Spyer, Camilla Sundwall, Devonne Brandys, Xin Wang (acquired licence and true copy)