Mass gambling:the Mass Observation Archive and popular leisure

Downs, Carolyn (2010) Mass gambling:the Mass Observation Archive and popular leisure. In: Recording leisure lives. Leisure Studies Association, Eastbourne, pp. 117-138. ISBN 9781905369188

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The Mass Observation 1947 file report (2545c) on the gambling behaviours of the British made clear that despite decades of attempted government prohibition of working class gambling the masses remained keen on having a flutter. This record of working-class leisure is augmented by material in the Penguin Books report and the Worktown papers. The Mass Observation archives illustrate how gambling was a central part of working class popular leisure in the years before the Betting and Gaming Act (1960). This paper will consider what Mass Observation and other contemporary supporting primary sources such as letters to John Hilton, the Pilgrim Trust’s work in Liverpool and Rowntree’s studies of York tell us about the cultural significance of mass gambling in working class lives during the period 1935 – 1960. The paper will explore the importance of hope, the need for escapism, the maintenance of social networks, the role of the holiday in providing a space for socially acceptable gambling and the social utility of mass gambling and will use data from the latest gambling prevalence studies to show how these historical patterns of behaviour continue into the present.

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22 Nov 2012 13:30
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21 Nov 2022 15:00