Mass Observation Archive

The  Mass Observation Archive specialises in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981. The Archive is a charitable trust in the care of the University of Sussex. It is housed at The Keep as part of the University’s Special Collections.

Mass Observation Project (MOP)

A unique UK based national life writing project about everyday life in Britain. It is a valuable resource, for research, teaching and learning. With its link to the original Mass Observation, it captures the experiences, thoughts and opinions of everyday people in the 21st century. The MOP was revived in 1981 and currently has a national Panel of 500 volunteer participants who respond to “Directives” or open-ended questions sent to them by post or email three times a year. The Directives contain two or three broad themes which cover both very personal issues and wider political and social issues and events. Participants retain anonymity and therefore write openly and candidly. The Project collaborates with academics nationally, across disciplines to commission Directives .

The Third Sector Research Centre

The Third Sector Research Centre works to enhance knowledge through independent and critical research.  In collaboration with practitioners, policy makers, and other academics, we explore the key issues affecting charities and voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals.

The CAQDAS Networking Project

Practical support, training and information in the use of a range of software programs designed to assist qualitative data analysis, collectively known as CAQDAS packages. Platforms for debate concerning the methodological and epistemological issues arising from the use of such software packages. Research into methodological applications of CAQDAS.

Observing the 80s

Observing the 1980s brings together voices from the Mass Observation Project & British Library Oral History Collections alongside ephemera from the University of Sussex Library. The material offers a unique and inspiring insight into the lives and opinions of British people from a range of social classes and regions, combined with publications dealing with contemporary issues such as the Poll Tax, AIDS and the Falklands Conflict during the 1980s.

Volunteering 1981-2012

The Continuity and Change in Volunteering project explores individual attitudes and behaviours towards volunteering, and individual views on the role and responsibility of the state towards provision for social need, across time (1981-2012). The proposal was developed in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive. This mixed-method research project draws on:

These sources allow exploration of relationships between voluntary activity and attitudes to questions such as redistribution or the proper role of the welfare state.


Timescapes was the first major qualitative longitudinal study to be funded in the UK, and explored how personal and family relationships develop and change over time. Timescapes ran for five years from February 2007, and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC)

Two socio-economic classifications – or SECs – were widely used in the UK in both official statistics and academic research: Social Class based on Occupation (SC, formerly Registrar General’s Social Class) and Socio-economic Groups (SEG). In 1994, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, now part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), commissioned the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to undertake a review of government social classifications. As a result of the review, the ESRC recommended that a new SEC, the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) replace both SC and SEG.

The Great British Class Survey – Results

Mike Savage from the London School of Economics and Fiona Devine from the University of Manchester describe their findings from The Great British Class Survey. Their results identify a new model of class with seven classes ranging from the Elite at the top to a ‘Precariat’ at the bottom.

Volunteering England

 Volunteering England is an independent charity and membership organisation, committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity.

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