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Mass Observation Dr Anne-Marie Kramer University of Warwick ‘Methods and the Archive’ 10 Nov 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Mass Observation Dr Anne-Marie Kramer University of Warwick ‘Methods and the Archive’ 10 Nov 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mass Observation Dr Anne-Marie Kramer University of Warwick ‘Methods and the Archive’ 10 Nov 2008

2 MO’s negotiated relationships commissioner correspondents researcher DIRECTIVE Dialectical & dialogical process correspondents correspondents MO-A -Institution -Director -Staff COLLABORATION

3 The role of correspondents: methodology & motivation MOTIVATION ? observers or observed? ‘ordinary people’

4 The quality and character of directive replies Contextualised, anonymised & reflexive material Reliability & responsiveness Range of responses (in-depth vs. minimalist) Range of writing genres Quality and depth ‘The narratives… read like words waiting to be told. Stories spill out’ (Purbrick, 2003: 217) ‘Their knowledge of these objects [wedding gifts] was intimate and for a researcher almost overwhelming’ (Purbrick, 2003: 217)

5 Intimacy & feeling: control, ownership & voice Writing as the people’s ‘representatives’ – who speaks for whom? ‘looking for clues’ in directives: prompts & messages; setting expectations Contesting directives & asserting collective ownership e.g. trivial or pointless directives Reflexivity in how correspondents answer directive responses

6 Re/presenting the self, describing the social world Presenting a successful, virtuous self (Busby, 2000:4) to an imagined audience Subjectivity versus social reportage Shifting selves across the lifecourse (Sheridan, 1996): reading M-O for ‘life histories’? Self-justification Contextualisation Lack of finality

7 Reflexivity & respect Mismatch between researchers and correspondents’ reading & writing practices? (Bloome et al, 1993) e.g. coherence ‘The uses to which research may be put and the credit taken for it can betray the intentions and faith of those writing for M-O. This… is crucial as the M-O panel is based on a trust which is easily damaged and the subjects/writers have no way of protesting or dissenting’ (Shaw: 1998: 3-4)


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