Mass Observation


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Mass Observation

a research organization established in 1936-37 by Charles Madge and Tom Harrison, which continued during World War II and has recently been revived. It conducted social surveys by asking volunteer observers to write reports on their own and others’ experiences, to keep diaries, and to answer QUESTIONNAIRES. In general, the approach was qualitative and unsystematic, which raised doubts about the representativeness of its findings.
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(He also took many photographs, as did Humphrey Spender, the brother of the poet Stephen Spender, who was working as a roving reporter for the Daily Mirror.) Other painters including William Cold-stream and Graham Bell were also asked by Harrisson to visit Bolton to help with Mass Observation. As Coldstream recorded, 'the slump made me aware of social problems and I became convinced that art should be directed towards a wider public.
These were gathered from popular publications in newspapers and in Mass Observation reports and interviews.
All that sociological research, along with the records of Mass Observation and the listener surveys conducted by BBC radio and television have become superb sources for the views and opinions of the people themselves, though one is also tempted to wonder to what extent a population so intensively observed, surveyed and questioned about its views and preferences was not also being educated to understand (and eventually react cynically to) the analytical and controlling tendencies of the bureaucracy
Throughout the study, the diaries and questionnaires of the Mass Observation project, gathered from thousands of British civilians beginning in the late thirties and now archived at the University of Sussex's Special Collections, prove an invaluable resource for this brand of cultural history, as indeed they do for each of the studies considered here.
Using the Mass Observation archives in the University of Sussex, the author has constructed a portrait of how the women of Britain coped with the war.
Using a wide range of sources, from the Imperial War Museum archives, the reports of Mass Observation's snoopers, to secret government reports and private diaries and letters, Juliet Gardiner has with this work set the seal on her reputation as our premier contemporary social historian of the Home Front in the Second World War.
The attention to detail is motivated in part by MO2, or Mass Observation, an unofficial organization begun in 1937 in England that set out to observe people and "the things surrounding people.
Dr Kramer analysed responses to questions about family history research put to people taking part in the Mass Observation Project, based at the University of Sussex, in which people volunteer to write about their lives as a record of everyday life.
After it finally wound up, we assumed the magazines had been destroyed, but in 2003 a young woman called Jenna Bailey found them in a Mass Observation Archive.
THE Mass Observation project, started in the 1930s, is the inspiration behind artist Jane Hughes's latest exhibition.
She has amassed a wealth of evidence including material collected by Mass Observation, letters written to Marie Stopes, reports from several birth control clinics, and particularly rich material gleaned from 193 oral-history interviews conducted with men and women based in South Wales, Oxford, Hertfordshire, and Blackburn.
OUR LONGEST DAYS, by the writers of Mass Observation (Profile Books, pounds 8.99)