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27 November 2014

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Mass Observation

Mass Observation
In 1937, Tom Harrisson, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings set up the social research organisation Mass Observation. Their aim was to create an "anthropology of ourselves" by studying the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. They did this by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers.

The team of observers went into many different public situations such as meetings, religious groups, sporting and leisure activities both in the street and at work. They recorded people's behaviour in as much detail as possible.

The panel of volunteer writers was composed of people from all over Britain who either kept diaries or replied to open-ended questionnaires sent to them by Mass Observation.

Although Jennings and Madge moved on, Mass Observation continued throughout the Second World War. The project continued into the 1950s, during which time a series of books and many reports were published.

The archive is currently kept at the University of Sussex, and you can find out more at their Mass Observation website.

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