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Mass Observation

The U.K. Mass Observation (M-O) Project began in 1937 and still continues over seventy years later. Its central methodological tenet was to “observe,” to watch and record people's behavior and conversations. It has been suggested that M-O is an enigma (Hubble 2010), and there is ongoing discussion as to whether it was a research project or a social movement (Summerfield 1985). M-O was indeed founded by three young intellectuals: Tom Harrison, a self-taught anthropologist; Charles Madge, a poet and journalist (later to become a Professor of Sociology at the University of Birmingham); and Humphrey Jennings, a painter poet, writer, and filmmaker. They came together through the pages of the New Statesman. To date, M-O represents an important data resource for understanding the everyday lives of ...

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