Born in 1935, Paul Thompson was educated at the University of Oxford, graduating in 1958 with First Class Honours in Modern History. He obtained a D. Phil, (also at the University of Oxford), in 1964. This was entitled London Working Class Politics and the Formation of the London Labour Party, 1885-1914. In 1964, having spent three years as a Junior Research Fellow at Queen's College, Oxford, Thompson was appointed Lecturer in Sociology (Social History), at the newly established University of Essex. He was to continue his research and teaching in sociology and social history at Essex, being appointed Research Professor in Sociology in 1988. Thompson is regarded as one of the pioneers of oral history as a research methodology. He is founding editor of the journal Oral History and founder of the National Life Story Collection at the British Library National Sound Archive, London. Between 1994 and 2001, as Director of Qualidata, University of Essex, Thompson actively pursued his interest in the preservation of qualitative research materials for secondary use, depositing his own datasets and overseeing the development of this archival service.
Thompson's sociological study, Families, Social Mobility and Ageing, an Intergenerational Approach (100 Families), was carried out between 1985 and 1988 with the purpose of gathering via interview ethnographic and dynamic information illustrative of family, ageing and social mobility. A sample of 110 families was taken, clustered in 200 wards in England, Wales and Scotland. The sample was based on a sub-sample of interviewees from the ESRC stagflation project and the initial focus was middle generation informants, aged 30-55 married with children. Interviews typically cover family background and occupation as well as a full life story covering childhood, working life, marriage and childrearing.
- Reference Time Period covered in Project: 1900-1985
- Unit of Observation: Families/households
- Sampling Procedures: Stratified or systematic random sample
- Method(s) of Data Collection: Face-to-face interview
- Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
This collection was originally catalogued by Qualidata, the Qualitative Data Service (now ESDS Qualidata). Background to the study is available as online documentation, in pdf format. (Documentation includes original grant proposals for the research, interview schedule, end of award reports and other outputs).