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UAL Research Online

Identity, Memory, Compassion and Competition: Mass-Participation Photography and Everyday Life

Pollen, Annebella (2010) Identity, Memory, Compassion and Competition: Mass-Participation Photography and Everyday Life. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Pollen, Annebella

This research asks key questions about the nature of 'majority' photography and its role in the making of community history, national identity and social memory, while testing existing theoretical assumptions about the form. Arguing that existing writing on amateur photographic practice lacks empirical substance, this thesis extrapolates findings from a much larger evidential base than previous research, examining as a sample the vast and previously unanalysed One Day for Life archive. Comprising 55,000 amateur photographs of everyday life in Britain, taken on one day in 1987 for a charitable competition and now held in the Mass Observation Archive, this rich resource provides the opportunity for fine-grained historical analysis of a 'vernacular' photographic practice that has been both eulogised and criticised but rarely investigated at such breadth.

The layered filtration process of One Day for Life - whereby photographs were elicited, evaluated, published, archived, classified and exhibited - enables a structured investigation of the shifting expectations and judgements applied to mass-participation photography in its various discursive locations. Extensive social biographical research into the origins, effects and afterlife of One Day for Life substantiates close analysis of the primary archival holdings through interviews with participants, organisers, publishers, curators and archivists, and by in-depth debate with published discourse on 'everyday' forms of photography. These dialogic research strands combine to form an original ethnographic investigation of the public dimensions of popular photography that argues for a fresh appraisal of the complex personal significance and social value of a practice frequently dismissed as lacking in intention, ambition and consequence.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: November 2010
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2023 11:09
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 16:32
Item ID: 19701
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/19701

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