A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



The information given in this report was collected in the course of two inquiries, one made in March and the other in October, 1946. Some information about cinema-going habits was collected in both of them.

In both inquiries samples of the adult civilian population were interviewed. In the first inquiry quota sampling was the method used, representative numbers of individuals who had left school being selected from different sex and occupation groups. Workers were interviewed at their places of work and housewives and the retired and unoccupied at their homes. In the second inquiry individuals were selected at regular intervals from the Maintenance Registers for those aged sixteen and over and were visited and interviewed at their homes. In both cases appropriate numbers of interviews were allotted to each of the twelve Civil Defence regions, and people living in towns of different sizes and in rural areas were represented in their due proportions. Details of the samples and the methods of selection used are given in Appendix 1.

In both inquiries informants were asked how often they went to the cinema. It was found that frequency of attendance varied markedly with age, older people going to the cinema much less frequently than younger people. Analysis of the March sample showed that persons aged fifty-five and over were somewhat under represented and therefore only the October figures have been used. The question asked was “How often (on the average) do you go to the cinema at this time of year?” and it should be noted that both March and October are midway between the summer and winter seasons.

No further questions about cinema-going were asked in the October inquiry, but in the inquiry made in March mothers were asked about the cinema-going habits of their children, and some further questions were asked about the prices paid for seats and the extent to which people selected cinemas to visit on account of the films being shown and from habit. The last questions were of course asked only of cinema-goers and the results are not therefore affected by the slight bias in age distribution in the sample as a whole.

Frequency of cinema-going is dealt with in Section I of this report, the information about adults being obtained from the October sample and that about children from the March sample. In Section II this information is used to build up a picture of the cinema audience, and subsequent sections deal with the other aspects of the subject that were studied in the March inquiry.

Reference should be made here to Social Survey Report New Series 37.b. “The Cinema Audience”. This report gives the results of an inquiry into the frequency of cinema going which was made in the summer of 1943. In making comparisons of the results of the present inquiries with those of this earlier inquiry it should be borne in mind that at that time habits were likely to have been affected by wartime conditions (blackout, etc.), that the results relate to the summer and not to the spring or autumn seasons, and that the composition of the civilian population was modified by many of those in the younger age groups being in the armed forces.

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