‘“The observation by everyone of everyone”: the project of mass-Observation in 1937’

Highmore, Ben (2023) ‘“The observation by everyone of everyone”: the project of mass-Observation in 1937’. In: Purcell, Jennifer (ed.) Mass-Observation: Text, Context and Analysis of the Pioneering Pamphlet and Movement. Bloomsbury, London, pp. 7-28. ISBN 9781350226470

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The republication of the original Mass-Observation pamphlet from 1937 is an opportunity to consider Mass-Observation (henceforth MO) not as a historical institution that was particularly active in the 1930s and 40s, nor as a sociological practice from the mid-century that was then picked up again in the 1980s, but as an emergent project. The word ‘project’ here refers to practices that are future-oriented, in-process, reflexive, unfinished, and malleable. To see MO as an emergent project requires less hindsight (and less concern with the clashing personalities and positionalities of its founders) and more attention to the plans and promises as they are announced in a set of inaugural public statements of which the pamphlet is the lodestone. The pamphlet is a text addressed to an audience written under the collective authorship of MO (even if the individual details of that authorship were made evident within the text). It is the result of an outpouring of energy, primarily from two young men, Charles Madge and Tom Harrisson, in the first few months of 1937 (January to April). It is a quasi-manifesto, but it is also a dossier of cultural experiments, intellectual resources and a list of aligned projects.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2022 08:46
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2023 13:24
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/107507

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