Mass Observations of Social Problems


    "MASS-OBSERVATION" by C. Madge and T. Harrisson, with a foreword by Dr. Julian Huxley, the first of a series of projected pamphlets, outlines the technique of a study of social environment and its effects on lines comparable with much bird-watching and observation of natural history, since, largely because of its empiricism, it has, like them, room for the untrained amateur as well as for the trained man of science (London: Frederick Muller, Ltd., 1937. 1s. net). The three sciences most immediately relevant to mass-observation are psychology, anthropology and sociology, and a fundamental plan for research will be evolved by the central organization as a result of suggestions from observers and scientific experts. In the first place, it is intended to mobilize a numerous and representative corps of observers and to equip and maintain an efficient central organization in touch with all other relevant research associations, however different their methods. The observers will collect their data, which cover as wide a field as possible in order to provide sufficient cross-references to indicate the probable nature of the bias in any individual report. The scientific expert will be required not only as an observer himself but also in drawing up the plan of work, framing well-constructed hypotheses to be tested by mass-observation methods and in suggesting subjects for detailed inquiry, as well as in the interpretation of the data collected and in securing a more rigorous objectivity. The presentation of the results involves further problems, as not only must facts be collected over the widest possible field, but also they must be made known to the widest possible field. As soon as possible, pamphlets at present projected will deal with such questions as popular superstitions, reasons for watching birds, the meaning given to freedom, and will be based on the work of the observers. They will be followed by cheap editions of relevant scientific books, and a monthly bulletin designed for wide circulation is also contemplated. The central office and filing system is at 6 Grote's Building, Blackheath, London, S.E.3.

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    Mass Observations of Social Problems. Nature 140, 843–844 (1937).

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