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Mass Observation Project

Drawing of an Observer's home taken from the MOPThe Mass Observation Project (MOP) is a unique national life writing project about everyday life in Britain, capturing the experiences, thoughts and opinions of everyday people in the 21st century.

Launched in 1981, the project continues to commission new research and is a valuable resource for research, teaching and learning.  It is one of the major repositories of longitudinal qualitative social data in the UK.

New Research: Directives

Each year the project issues three 'Directives' (open questionnaires) to a panel of hundreds of volunteer writers nationally (known as 'Observers'). The Archive collates the responses and makes them available for research. Visit our collection pages to find out more about the collection and how to access it at The Keep.

It differs from other similar social investigations because of its historical link to the original Mass Observation movement and because of its focus on voluntary, self-motivated participation. The 'Observers' do not constitute a statistically representative sample of the population but can be seen as reporters or “citizen journalists” who provide a window on their world.


You can also access information about the Mass Observation Project Panel on this database, which contains information about the biographical/demographic characteristics and writing behaviours of individual Mass Observation Project writers.

Collaborating on research

Researchers across a wide range of disciplines collaborate with us by commissioning their own Directive. Find out more about collaborating with Mass Observation on a Directive.

The Directive themes need to have some relevance to everyone who writes and we are therefore careful to maintain a balance between subjects such as:

- personal (Sex, The Home, Doing a Job)
- political (The General Election, Civil Disobedience, The Scottish Referendum)
- historical (The First World War, Doing Family History Research)


In order to sustain the Mass Observation Project and continue to create valuable research opportunities, generating funding is core to our activities. A fee is therefore charged to those who collaborate on the production of a Mass Observation Directive to support project costs. Find out more about this here