Five LSE Giants' Perspectives on Poverty

Hosted by LSE Festival: Beveridge 2.0

Alumni Theatre, New Academic Building


Dr Tania Burchardt

Dr Tania Burchardt

Professor Sir John Hills

Professor Sir John Hills

Professor Stephen P Jenkins

Professor Stephen P Jenkins

Professor Lucinda Platt

Professor Lucinda Platt


Professor Paul Gregg

Taking five ‘Giants’ in the study of poverty over the last 100 years, themselves, like Beveridge, authors of influential reports, this event discusses how their thinking articulates with Beveridge’s vision and has advanced our understanding of poverty and how to tackle it.

This event focuses on Beveridge’s Giant of ‘want’. It addresses the thinking on poverty of five ‘Giants’ in the study of poverty over the last 100 years, who have been closely associated with LSE and who are themselves authors or co-authors of influential reports: Beatrice Webb, Brian Abel-Smith, Peter Townsend, Amartya Sen and Anthony Atkinson. It explores how their thinking both articulates with the concepts and propositions of Beveridge in his report, and has transformed the ways in which we think about poverty and how to address it.

The event draws on the insights of current LSE academics known for their work on poverty and inequality. Lucinda Platt will discuss Beatrice Webb’s ‘Minority Report on the Poor Laws’ of 1909, which was deemed to be highly influential on Beveridge’s thinking and the break with the Poor Laws expressed in his report.

John Hills will shed light on the ‘rediscovery of poverty’ marked by the publication of Brian Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend’s 1966 work on ‘The Poor and The Poorest’, the corrective this provided to the somewhat over-optimistic interpretation of the achievements of the welfare state in eliminating poverty, and how it foregrounded Townsend’s subsequent development of the relational and ‘relative’ conception of poverty. 

Tania Burchardt will analyse the distinctive contribution of Amartya Sen to how we understand poverty across very different contexts, in her consideration of the 2009 Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (coauthored with Joseph Stiglitz and Jean-Paul Fitoussi). 

Finally, Stephen Jenkins will evaluate the significance of the Atkinson Commission’s 2015 Report on Monitoring Global Poverty to how we conceptualize and address poverty in a global context.

Tania Burchardt is Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. Tania’s research interests lie in theories of justice, including the capability approach, measurement of inequality and applied welfare policy analysis.

John Hills is Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at LSE, co-director of the LSE’s interdisciplinary International Inequalities Institute and is currently Chair of CASE. John’s research focuses on inequality, the welfare state, and the role of social policy over the life course.  His interests also include public attitudes to the welfare state; social security; pensions policy; income and wealth distribution and fuel poverty.

Stephen P Jenkins is Professor of Economic and Social Policy, in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. He has been head of department since September 2016. Stephen is a quantitative generalist with most of his research about income inequality and poverty, and also mobility. His work addresses topics such as the rise in top incomes and their contribution to recent increases in inequality, how to measure poverty persistence and assess which factors trigger exits from a poverty spell.

Lucinda Platt is Professor of Social Policy and Sociology in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. Lucinda’s research focuses on inequalities, with a particular focus on ethnicity and migration, as well as gender, disability, identity, and child poverty. She has published extensively on the development of poverty measurement and analysis before and after Beveridge.

Paul Gregg is a Professor of Economic and Social Policy, and Director of the Centre for Analysis and Social Policy at the University of Bath.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEBeveridge #LSEFestival

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Beveridge 2.0 running from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 February 2018, with a series of events rethinking the welfare state for the 21st century and the global context.

Podcast & Video

A podcast and video of this event are available to download from Five LSE Giants' Perspectives on Poverty.

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Don't miss A Time for Revolutions: making the Welfare State, and exhibition in the LSE Library Gallery from Monday 8 January – Friday 13 April. This exhibition marks the 75th anniversary of the Beveridge report and looks at how welfare provision has been shaped and changed through the ages. This is one of a series of ongoing exhibitions and events hosted by LSE Library which utilise its world class special collections in order to provide food for thought for all.


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