Recorded Webinar: Mass-Observing Modern Britain

By Professor Claire Langhamer

Mass-Observation is probably the most consistently useful source for the study of mid and late 20th social lives Britain. It was established in 1937 with the aim of investigating ordinary life and developing an 'anthropology of ourselves.' It used a range of different methods to collect information, from recording overheard conversations in the street, to asking people to answer questionnaires and send in diary entries. It is often thought of as an intensely democratic source for the study of everyday life.

Whilst the original Mass Observation had largely stopped operating in this way by the mid-1950s, a new Mass Observation Project was established in 1981 and has generated personal reflections from a panel of volunteer writers ever since. In this webinar Professor Claire Langhamer talks about both old and new Mass Observation, exploring the motivations of its founders and writers, outlining the various research practices it employed, and surveying the material that it generated. Crucially, we explore the diverse ways in which historians have used Mass Observation's material to write their own histories of modern Britain.

This webinar was recorded on 27 February 2023.

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