In its methodology, the Everyday Life in Middletown project is a product of two important sociological studies: Mass Observation and Robert and Helen Lynd’s famous “Middletown” studies of 1929 and 1934.
To differentiate ourselves from Mass Observation, we didn’t necessarily teach our informants our methods, but we’re keeping open lines of communication and allowing them to step in and help us develop new ideas. Even though the tools are the same, of course we’ve used more advanced methods of gathering the data. Our study lasted about five weeks, during which we asked our informants to keep day diaries on assigned dates, take a 30-question survey through BSU Qualtrics once a week, and be open and available for interviews to either create initial relationships and/or expand on things that were vaguely expressed in one of the other forms of data collection.
For their best-selling books Middletown: A study in Modern American Culture and Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts, the Lynds came to live in Muncie, Indiana, studying it as the industrial spectacle, the average midwestern up-and-coming community. As one of the many studies to follow up on and revise the Lynds’ work, our study brings Middletown Studies further into the post-industrial era, further developing and following people in their everyday lives to discover what it is truly like to be a member of the Muncie community.
Although we originally used these two studies as a structural backbone in creating our project, we found that our goals and plans for the data were more than simply informational. As a whole, we envision that the everyday will be able to unite the people of differing neighborhoods and backgrounds. We believe that our products will demonstrate the need for a more visionary, democratic community in order to recover from the fall of industrialism in Middletown.