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Report on Juvenile Delinquency

Jan Swafford
Date Published
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Mass Observation was founded by Tom Harrisson, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings in 1937. Its purpose was to create ‘an anthropology of ourselves’ in other words, to study the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. Discounting an initial pamphlet, this was the seventeenth book to be published. It appears in Faber Finds as a part of an extensive reissue programme of the original Mass Observation titles.

First published in 1948, Report on Juvenile Delinquency is one of the earliest books to be devoted to the phenomenon of aberrant behaviour among the young. The original blurb has a contemporary ring to it:

‘At a time when the newspapers carry daily reports of violence and crime committed by young people, the publication of this book, containing as it does, a thorough examination of the whole problem of juvenile delinquency, is imperative to a full understanding of our time. Not only is the evidence of prison chaplains and psychiatrists sifted and collated, but also accounts of home and work conditions, and the reasons for drifting into crime, are given by the young people themselves. The merits and demerits of the present system of approved-school correction and prison are discussed at length, and a picture is built from which he general reader can assess the value of much of our present system of social reform.’

Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by Tom Harrission, Charles Madge and Humphrey Jennings. Its purpose was to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves’, in other words, to provide a study of the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. In its first period, from 1937 to 1950, it published twenty-two books, many of which are being reissued in Faber Finds.…

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