The Mass Observation Movement And Its Contribution To The British National Heritage

2870 words - 11 pages

Marta Kazimierek DSM 1THE MASS OBSERVATION MOVEMENT AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE BRITISH NATIONAL HERITAGEOn Saturday, 14 August 1937, Evening Telegraph published an article announcing "About 1300 people will be observing themselves and their neighbours and writing a report of their observation" (Evening Telegraph 8). They were to write about their ordinary lives, report on their attitudes on questions of general interest, record their holidays (idem). Was it a ridiculous idea deemed to fail? The history proved that it was not: the movement, the beginnings of which can be traced back to the 1930s., survived, and still continues in Great Britain. This paper is to describe Mass Observation and evaluate its achievements. It will present how it contributed to the building of the British national heritage.The very first paragraphs discuss the era within which the movement started, then the work describes the circumstances under which the Mass Observation was established, its founders, members (observers and other people who contributed to the success of Mass Observation), and the projects undertaken by the participants of it. The concluding paragraph provides evaluation of the movement.The Age of AnxietyThe period when the movement started, 1930s., can be called "the no longer and not yet decade" (Bruś 10.10.2013). People who lived in the 30s. in Britain had the impression of living in specific times, they felt confusion, anxiety, had a sense of crisis (idem). In fact, their feeling had real implications, as the decade was special indeed. There are some turning points that marked the start of "The Age of Anxiety", which are as following:- 1929 crash on Wall Street, - 1930 W.H. Auden published his first book ("Poems"), - 1930 T.S. Eliot published his richly allusive poem "Ash Wednesday".The 30s. are also known as the era of unemployment (Lambert) and economic crisis. At the website www.nationalarchives.gov.uk one can find many disturbing reports on unemployment, hunger marches, abdication discussions, and opposition to Government. In October 1932 police Sergeant A. Davies reported on the National Hunger Marchers' demonstration in Hyde Park: "As a leader and deputy organiser of the Southern Contingent, it was my duty to see that the hunger marchers in 1932 marched against the national government of starvation, war and degradation, and paved the way for the smashing of the means test." (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).On the other hand, people who did have jobs, lived quite comfortably (Lambert). The country was divided into the richer and more prosperous South and the poorer North that was fighting crisis. The better-off residents of the South did not have any idea of what the life of poor labourers looked like (Bruś 14.11.2013). This is also considered to be one of the reasons for establishing the Mass Observation Movement - showing blue-collar workers' lives.Another landmark of the period was the abdication of Edward VIII. His short reign...

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