Seebohm Rowntree and the measurement of poverty, 1899-1951

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In 1986 John Veit-Wilson launched a fierce attack on what he regarded as the misrepresentation of Seebohm Rowntree’s original conception of the meaning of poverty. He argued that Rowntree’s critics had labelled him unfairly as the architect of an ‘absolute’ conception of poverty, and that Rowntree’s own conception of poverty was far more ‘relative’ than his critics allowed (Veit-Wilson 1986a). This view has rapidly assumed the status of a new orthodoxy. When David Englander and Rosemary O’Day reprinted Veit-Wilson’s essay in 1995, they explained that ‘Veit-Wilson’s contribution shows that Rowntree’s early views and methods have been widely misunderstood ... and ... necessitates a reconsideration of Rowntree’s position, which would show Townsend’s achievement as a paradigmatic shift ... from relativistic models based on standards prescribed by expert observers to relativistic models based on standards derived from the whole population by social surveys (Englander and O’Day 1995: 36).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGetting the Measure of Poverty: The Early Legacy of Seebohm Rowntree
    EditorsJonathan Bradshaw, Roy Sainsbury
    Place of PublicationFarnham
    Number of pages25
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000

    Publication series

    NameStudies in Cash & Care


    • seebohm rowntree
    • measurement
    • poverty
    • 1899-1951


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