Welcome to our second blog. As you can imagine, for the Mass Observation Project (MOP), this is an exciting collaboration. It will shed new light on our writers, some of whom have been writing since it started in 1981 and provide valuable resource tools for future researchers.
Mass Observation Panel
The Mass Observation Panel includes both male and female writers, ranging in age from 18 to their late 80’s, living across the UK, with various occupations and household statuses. However, the question of representativeness with regards to who they are, does continue to be raised. In recent years a criteria was put in place to balance the Panel, with recruitment requirement being male, aged 16-44, living outside of the South East. This has made a difference to the balance of the Panel, however, as volunteers, we cannot guarantee who will respond to each Directive.
Researchers across a wide range of academic disciplines have used MOP over the decades, both thematically and longitudinally. The in-depth narrative responses, written anonymously are often used alongside other data sources. For Professor Carol Smart, who has commissioned numerous Directives, she writes
‘You never quite know what you will find in their written responses but the depth and variety of the experiences Panellists write about are invaluable. We have explored friendship and also donor conception. On both occasions we used the MOP as part of a mixed methods approach, for example combined with in-depth interviews or focus groups with other samples of respondents. The written responses, we have found, add another dimension to research findings gleaned through other methods. I am quite convinced that the MOP gives sociological research access to ‘parts that other methods cannot reach’ and this arises largely from the commitment that Panellists have to the Project and their willingness to write in very personal ways.
Upcoming Event 24th June
Rose will be speaking about the developments of Defining Mass Observation at an event we’re hosting in London on 24th June ‘Mass Observing Today; Opportunities for new research’. The event will be a chance to hear from previous commissioners on their reasons for collaborating with the Mass Observation Project; research findings, funding and their next steps in using the data.