In this brief essay, I suggest that during the era when filmgoing dominated all other paid-for-leisure activities, the POPSTAT method opens a portal onto civil society. It allows us to understand the process by which films were diffused; the reason why they were diffused in this manner; the preferences of audiences for particular films and by inference what excited them; the manner in which these informal (subjective) preferences co-existed with the formal structures of ideology exercised by the Authorities; and finally gender, class and ethnic differences in taste and how these might have changed over time. I have illustrated the use to which the POPSTAT method has been used by historians, concentrating on the important contributions of Joseph Garncarz and Clara Pafort Overduin. At the centre of the method is the behaviour of audiences, the consumers of films. POPSTAT in conjunction with RelPOP allows us to measure, compare and contrast this behaviour.

Cinema History, POPSTAT, RelPOP, film popularity, comparative methods, audiences
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis
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TMG Journal for Media History; Vol 23, No 1-2 (2020): Comparative Histories of Moviegoing; 1-9

Sedgwick, John. (2020). From POPSTAT to RelPOP: A Methodological Journey in Investigating Comparative Film Popularity. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 23(1-2), 1–9. doi:10.18146/tmg.776