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MASS OBSERVATION ARCHIVE

Papers from the Mass-Observation Archive at the University of Sussex
Part 2: The Worktown Collection, 1937-1940

"Mass-Observation can be described as a project designed to involve the mass of "ordinary people" in a sociological research process - an "anthropology at home" - as a way of harnessing and explicating "public opinion" as well as, relatedly, helping close the gap between the decision-making of political leaders and the convictions and wishes of ordinary people. Its history is entwined in complex and fascinating ways with the history of the disciplines of anthropology, economics and particularly with sociology".
Liz Stanley, Professor of Sociology , Manchester University
writing in The Archaeology of a 1930’s Mass-Observation Project

Mass-Observation was a pioneering social research organisation whose papers provide insights into the cultural and social history of Britain from 1937 to 1965. 
Its strength is that it describes everyday life in the words of ordinary people, with extensive interviews and records of overheard conversations, rather than through polls.  The collection is also a wonderful source of contemporary ephemera.

Parts 2 and 3 provide the complete papers describing their first major investigation - an anthropological survey of working class and middle class life in Bolton and Blackpool, 1937-1940.  Part 2 includes material on the organisation of the project (at peak times they had 60 investigators living locally), and extensive evidence gathered regarding Pubs, Sport, Politics (from Fascism to the Left Book Club), Elections, Trade Unions, Religion, Worship, Fêtes, Bazaars, Youth Groups, Lectures, Funerals, Valentine Day, Coronation Day, Shopping, and Household budgets.



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