mo logo yellow

Contact us:

Phone: +44 (0)1273 337515

Email: moa@sussex.ac.uk

Worktown: The Astonishing Story of the Project that launched Mass Observation

worktownThe astonishing story of the project that launched Mass Observation

In the late 1930s the Lancashire town of Bolton witnessed a ground-breaking social experiment. Over three years, a team of ninety observers recorded, in painstaking detail, the everyday lives of ordinary working people at work and play - in the pub, dance hall, factory and on holiday. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves'. The first of its kind, it later grew into the Mass Observation movement that proved so crucial to our understanding of public opinion in future generations.

The project attracted a cast of larger-than-life characters, not least its founders, the charismatic and unconventional anthropologist Tom Harrisson and the surrealist intellectuals Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings. They were joined by a disparate band of men and women - students, artists, writers and photographers, unemployed workers and local volunteers - who worked tirelessly to turn the idle pleasure of people-watching into a science.

Drawing on their vivid reports, photographs and first-hand sources, David Hall relates the extraordinary story of this eccentric, short-lived, but hugely influential project. Along the way, he creates a richly detailed, fascinating portrait of a lost chapter of British social history, and of the life of an industrial northern town before the world changed for ever.

Published in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex, which holds the papers of the British social research organisation Mass Observation from 1937 to the early 1950s, as well as new material collected continuously since 1981 about everyday life in Britain.

Amazon
Hardback
Ebook

Waterstones
Hardback

"Glad the cheese ration is to be increased, my greatest miss" #CheeseLoversDay from this Special Report on househo… https://t.co/qsRF66qZN5
The ideal home? "All the walls would be stripped of wallpaper & a substitute found for the dingy-brown-flowers-in-t… https://t.co/nhIZT7hrmd
RT @verbivorial: This, which is on the way, might be of interest to some of you. Very pleased to have an essay in Literature & History agai…
Follow Mass Observation on Twitter