Modernising British Sociology: The Rise of the Social Survey

  • Baudry Rocquin


The most important contribution of interwar British sociologists to the world discipline stemmed from their introduction of the social survey as a modern discipline. What was a long-established tradition in the country became a tool to foster the sociological imagination, the involvement of the surveyed population and public sociology in the interwar new science. All the post-WWII developments of sociology in America stemmed from the interwar British social survey which greatly modernised the discipline avant la lettre—and much before France.


  1. Abernethy, Simon T. 2013. ‘Deceptive Data? The New Survey of London Life and Labour 1928–1931’. Unpublished Paper, University of Cambridge.
  2. Abrams, Mark. 1951. Social Surveys and Social Action. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  3. Abrams, Philip. 1968. The Origins of British Sociology, 1834–1914: An Essay with Selected Papers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Annan, Noel G. 1959. The Curious Strength of Positivism in English Political Thought. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bakke, E. W. 1933. The Unemployed Man: A Social Study. London: Nisbet.Google Scholar
  6. Beales, H. L., and R. S. Lambert. 1934. Memoirs of the Unemployed. London: Victor Gollancz.Google Scholar
  7. Beaver, S. H. 1962. ‘The Le Play Society and Field Work’. Geography 47 (3): 225–240.Google Scholar
  8. Beveridge, William Henry. 1931. Causes and Cures of Unemployment. London: Longmans, Green.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, Charles. 1889. Life and Labour of the People in London. Vol. 1. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  10. Bowley, A. L. 1915. Livelihood and Poverty: A Study in the Economic Conditions of Working-Class Households in Northampton, Warrington, Stanley and Reading. London: G. Bell & Sons.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1925. Has Poverty Diminished?: A Sequel to ‘Livelihood and Poverty’. London: P. S. King.Google Scholar
  12. Branford, Sybella Gurney, Alexander Farquharson, and Cities Committee. 1924. An Introduction to Regional Surveys, Prepared at the Instance of the Cities Committee, Leplay House. Westminster: The Leplay House Press.Google Scholar
  13. Briggs, Asa. 1961. A Study of the Work of Seebohm Rowntree 1871–1954. London: Longmans.Google Scholar
  14. Bulmer, Martin. 1985. Essays on the History of British Sociological Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bulmer, Martin, Kevin Bales, and Kathryn Kish Sklar. 1991. The Social Survey in Historical Perspective, 1880–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Burawoy, Michael. 2005. ‘2004 American Sociological Association Presidential Address: For Public Sociology’. The British Journal of Sociology 56 (2): 259–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davison, Ronald C. 1929. The Unemployed: Old Policies and New. London: Longmans, Green.Google Scholar
  18. Demant, V. A. 1931. This Unemployment: Disaster or Opportunity? An Argument in Economic Philosophy Submitted to the Christian Social Council by Its Research Committee. London: Student Christian Movement Press.Google Scholar
  19. Durant, Ruth. 1939. Watling: A Survey of Social Life on a New Housing Estate. London: P. S. King.Google Scholar
  20. Evans, David. 1986. ‘Le Play House and the Regional Survey Movement in British Sociology 1920–1955’. MPhil thesis, Birmingham Polytechnic, Birmingham.
  21. Eyles, L. 1935. ‘London’s Leisure’. Times Literary Supplement, 4 July 1935.Google Scholar
  22. Farquharson, Alexander. 1930. Social Surveys and Community Organisation—A Guide to the Making of Social Surveys with Special Reference to the Formation of Community Councils. London: Leplay House.Google Scholar
  23. Ford, Percy. 1934. Work and Wealth in a Modern Port: An Economic Survey of Southampton. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  24. Fraser, Derek. 2009. The Evolution of the British Welfare State: A History of Social Policy Since the Industrial Revolution. 4th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan [1973].Google Scholar
  25. Geddes, Patrick. 1905. ‘Civics: As Applied Sociology’. The Sociological Papers 1: 103–129.Google Scholar
  26. Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  27. Giulianotti, Richard. 2015. Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Sport. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goldman, Lawrence. 1987. ‘A Peculiarity of the English? The Social Science Association and the Absence of Sociology in Nineteenth-Century Britain’. Past and Present 114: 133–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Greenwood, W. 1933. Love on the Dole. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  30. Grimley, Matthew. 1998. ‘Citizenship, Community and the Church of England: Anglican Theories of the State, c.1926–1939’. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  31. Halsey, A. H. 2004. A History of Sociology in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Harris, José. 1972. Unemployment and Politics: A Study in English Social Policy, 1886–1914. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 1977. William Beveridge: A Biography. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hawthorn, Geoffrey. 1976. Enlightenment and Despair: A History of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Jahoda, Marie. 1938. ‘Some Ideas on Social and Psychological Research’. The Sociological Review 30 (1): 63–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jahoda, Marie, Paul Lazarsfeld Felix, and Hans Zeisl. 1933. Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal; ein soziographischer Versuch über die Wirkungen langdauernder Arbeitslosigkeit. Leipzig: S. Hirzel.Google Scholar
  37. Jones, D. Caradog. 1931. ‘The Social Survey of Merseyside: An Analysis of Material Relating to Poverty, Overcrowding, and the Social Services’. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 94 (2): 218–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ———. 1934. The Social Survey of Merseyside. 3 vols. Liverpool: University of Liverpool.Google Scholar
  39. ———. 1949. Social Surveys. London: Hutchinson’s University Library.Google Scholar
  40. Kenny, Michael. 2004. ‘The Case for Disciplinary History: Political Studies in the 1950s and 1960s’. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6 (4): 565–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kent, R. A. 1985. ‘The Emergence of the Sociological Survey, 1887–1939’. In Essays on the History of British Sociological Research, edited by Martin Bulmer, 52–69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Leplay House. 1923. Norwegian Studies. Westminster: Leplay House Press.Google Scholar
  43. Llewellyn Smith, H. 1930. The New Survey, I, ‘Forty Years of Change’. London: P. S. King.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 1932. The New Survey, III, ‘Social Survey, I, Eastern Area’. London: P. S. King.Google Scholar
  45. ———. 1935. The New Survey of London Life and Labour. 9 vols. London: P. S. King.Google Scholar
  46. Marett, R. R., and John Ranulph de la Haule Marett. 1932. Jersey: Suggestions Towards a Civic and Regional Survey. London: Le Play House.Google Scholar
  47. Marsh, Catherine. 1982. The Survey Method: The Contribution of Surveys to Sociological Explanation. London and Boston: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  48. Mayhew, Henry. 1861. London Labour and the London Poor. London: Griffin, Bohn, and Company.Google Scholar
  49. McKibbin, Ross. 1990. ‘The “Social Psychology” of Unemployment in Inter-War Britain’. In The Ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain 1880–1950, 228–258. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  50. Meara, G. 1936. Juvenile Unemployment in South Wales. Cardiff.
  51. Mess, Henry Adolphus. 1928. Industrial Tyneside: A Social Survey Made for the Bureau of Social Research for Tyneside. London: E. Benn limited.Google Scholar
  52. Mills, Charles Wright. 1970. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press; Pelican Books [1959].Google Scholar
  53. Orwell, G. 1937. The Road to Wigan Pier. London: Victor Gollancz.Google Scholar
  54. Peverett, George, Alfred T. Pike, and National Adult School Union (Great Britain). n.d. Social Survey: A Guide to Good Citizenship. London: National Adult School Union.Google Scholar
  55. Priestley, J. B. 1934. English Journey: Being a Rambling But Truthful Account of What One Man Saw and Heard and Felt and Thought During a Journey Through England During the Autumn of the Year 1933. London: W. Heinemann & V. Gollancz.Google Scholar
  56. Pugh, Martin. 2009. We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  57. Rowntree, B. S. 1901. Poverty: A Study of Town Life. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  58. ———. 1941. Poverty and Progress. London: Longmans, Green.Google Scholar
  59. ———. 1951. Poverty and the Welfare State: A Third Social Survey of York Dealing Only with Economic Questions. London: Longmans, Green.Google Scholar
  60. Royal Institute of International Affairs. 1935. Unemployment: An International Problem. London: Oxford University Press, H. Milford.Google Scholar
  61. Ruskin, John. 1862. Unto This Last. London: Harrap.Google Scholar
  62. Tout, Herbert. 1938. The Standard of Living in Bristol: A Preliminary Report of the Work of the University of Bristol Social Survey. Bristol: Arrowsmith.Google Scholar
  63. Townsend, Peter. 1957. The Family Life of Old People: An Inquiry in East London. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  64. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. 1943. Disinherited Youth: A Report on the 18 + Age Group Enquiry Prepared for the Trustees of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. Edimbourg: Carnegie Trust.Google Scholar
  65. The Pilgrim Trust. 1938. Men Without Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Wells, A. F. 1935. The Local Social Survey in Great Britain. London: Le Play House.Google Scholar
  67. Whitehead, Frank. 1985. ‘The Government Social Survey’. In Essays on the History of British Sociological Research, edited by Martin Bulmer, 83–100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Young, Michael Dunlop, and Peter Willmott. 1957. Family and Kinship in East London. London and Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  69. Zoberman, Yves. 2011. Une histoire du chômage: de l’Antiquité à nos jours. Paris: Perrin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baudry Rocquin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

Personalised recommendations