Analysis of MOP Directives

The contributions of volunteer Mass Observation Project (MOP) writers to the “Social Divisions” and “Lifelines” directives are being analysed to inform understandings of the relevance of socio-economic classifaction systems from the perspectives of the population.

The “Social Divisions” sample constitutes responses from 652 MOP writers, providing a cross-sectional snapshot of contributors in 1990 (who comprise 75% of active/serial responders. The directive explores inequalities within British Society in 1990. Writers are asked: i) What it means to be a particular class, and how this relates to their experience; ii) Whether they are part of a minority in British society; iii) Whether they are discriminatory towards certain sections of society.

Initial scoping suggests that the 652 writers who responded to this directive describe their perceptions of their own class, often in relation to their educational background, and their parents’ occupation and class. When considered in conjunction with their view as to whether they are a minority, their responses allow us to ask: i) What class do MOP writers perceive themselves to be? ii) In what way do MOP writers perceive themselves to be different from the broader British population?  iii) What types of difference do MOP writers notice and discriminate against? The qualitative value of these narratives on class and difference lies in the depth of insight they give in respect to personal perceptions of identity, and how this relates and compares to the quantitative analytical portrait of MOP writers that we will be constructing.
The „Your Lifeline‟ sample (159 respondents) represents a cross-sectional snapshot of contributors in 2008. The directive asks writers to provide a timeline of meaningful life-course events. Responses comprise a mix of textual and visual materials, with some writers providing a visual timeline of key
events.

These responses enable us to ask: i) What life-course events are significant to individual writers? ii)
Do writers share particular life-course events, e.g. divorce, educational achievement or failure? iii) Do writers associate significant life-events with their entry into the MOP, e.g. bereavement, retirement, children leaving home?  Analysis of this directive will give a sense of how individual writers perceive the structure of their lives, how and why certain events are significant, and how and why meanings are attached to events and decisions.

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