Blowing the lid off cultural exclusion: Possibilities of the Mass Observation Project

Tania Wiseman, Andrew Church, Neil Ravenscroft

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Families with children gather together multiple generations around carefully constructed bonfires, an exaggerated check for hedgehogs and nanny lights the fire. Dad lights the fireworks, carefully placing each one, sealing the tin, standing back after lighting the touch paper and together they watch the fizzy colourful exciting bursts. Stopping to enjoy baked potatoes, parkin, treacle toffee, and run around with sparklers. The fun fills the crisp night air. The noise, like an artillery barrage fills the smoky night.
But not everyone has children to hand to gain access to this special night, and for many it is a night when other people have fun. They put up with the loud intrusive bangs, and reminisce on their own lifetime of being part of, and excluded from, this special night.
Stories about leisure through the life course that are presented in this research were constructed through immersion in the contributions of individual Mass Observation Archive correspondents writing about bonfire night (Bonfire Night 2015). Current and remembered stories are woven together using direct quotes to create stories that illustrate ‘other people’s fun’ and the effect that echoes of the past have on the 5th of November each year. Creative non-fiction is an important narrative form which is used in leisure studies research, and aims to present qualitative findings in an engaging and emotive way.
Drawing on narratives from the Mass Observation Archive in Sussex, this paper explores the thoughts and feeling of people around this mass cultural event who do not fit the cultural brief for inclusion. Some find ways to vicariously participate, others turn up the TV, grit their teeth and hang onto their pets. This research begins to explore what lies beneath these responses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018
EventRecording Leisure lives: Cultures, Communities and Class in Leisure in 20th Century Britain - Uiversity of Bolton, Bolton, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Mar 201827 Mar 2018


ConferenceRecording Leisure lives
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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