Saturday, September 3, 2011

survey of surveys

From brassieres to television habits, survey-takers have sought to gather some variegated stuff in England. Now there is a history of social surveys.

What is interesting about such a compendium is not so much the results as it is the questions people were asking in other times. Those questions give a closer look at the time in which they were asked ... or anyway I think so. The survey on brassieres, for example, sought to find out how much steel was being diverted from the World War II war effort.

And it makes me wonder what questions anyone might ask themselves today given their time and geography. What do those questions tell about social norms, prejudices, and pure bias of the one asking the questions? What questions go begging as the current questions are asked? What narrowed vision is portrayed in those questions in the search for some wider meaning?

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