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Charles Booth Centenary Lectures

Thursday November 3rd

Speakers: Mary Morgan  (LSE Economic History Dept), Alan Manning (LSE Economics Dept), Stephen Machin  (LSE Centre for Economic Performance), Fran Tonkiss (LSE Sociology Dept), Suzi Hall (LSE Cities), Anne Power (LSE Social Policy Dept), Emily Grundy (LSE Social Policy Dept), Tim Newburn (Social Policy Dept) and John Hills (LSE International Inequalities Institute and Social Policy Dept)

This event, which coincided with the LSE Research Festival 2016, was part of a wider LSE celebration of pioneering social scientist Charles Booth, who died in 1916, and whose original survey into life and labour in London is held in the LSE Library.

Booth's investigation of poverty in London provides a key example both of the creative development of social science and of the ways in which research may be used to have a positive impact on society. The event brought together a group of scholars from a range of disciplines to explore the substance of Booth's ideas as well as his broader legacy for the social sciences and for contemporary social analysis.

Session 1: Welcome and Introduction: Charles Booth and the Social Sciences

SpeakerProf Mary Morgan (LSE Economic History Dept)
Chair: Prof Nicola Lacey (LSE Law Dept and International Inequalities Institute)

This lecture explored why Booth's work was both pioneering social science in its time, and relevant to today's research agenda on understanding poverty and inequality.

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Session 2: Economy, Work, Pay, Class - Then and Now

Speakers: Profs Fran Tonkiss (LSE Sociology Dept), Stephen Machin (LSE Centre for Economic Performance) and Alan Manning (LSE Economics Dept)
Chair: Prof Nicola Lacey

Prof Fran Tonkiss reflected on some of the key issues for geographies of poverty and inequality which Booth tracked through his work, and how we might connect with these in the London of today.

Prof Stephen Machin and Prof Alan Manning discussed the labour market problems we face today, drawing links to those that Booth documented.

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Session 3: Housing, Health, Personal Circumstances, Criminality - Then and Now

SpeakersDr Suzi Hall (LSE Cities), Profs Anne Power (LSE Social Policy Dept), Emily Grundy (LSE Social Policy Dept) and Tim Newburn (Social Policy Dept)
ChairDr Suki Ali (LSE Sociology Dept)

Dr Suzi Hall explored how urban patterns of migration and marginalisation have historically intersected, making for diverse and deprived spaces in urban peripheries across UK cities. Drawing on Booth's detailed mapping and interviews of people and places, she reflected on how to map human skill alongside structures of deprivation, and considered how Booth might engage with a 'global sense of place' were he to undertake a mapping of the contemporary city.

Prof Anne Power gave an historical account of housing policies in England since the early 20th century. She argued that we still struggle to house everyone, and that the country has seen a return to insecurity and heavy concentrations of poverty.

Prof Emily Grundy spoke about her research into the health, well-being and support of older people, for which she has drawn heavily on census-based sources, sought to investigate links between material and social conditions and health in later life and also examined variations in access to various forms of state and other supports. She outlined some of this work and how it links to the concerns and contributions of Booth.

Prof Tim Newburn spoke about criminality as conceived by Booth, and its relevance today.

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Session 4: "The Chain: How Inequality Works"

Speaker:  Prof John Hills (LSE International Inequalities Institute and Social Policy Dept)
Chair: Prof Julia Black

Prof John Hills traced some of the ways in which rising inequalities in income and wealth and the policies associated with them are driving the housing crisis for those at the margins.

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About the speakers

Mary Morgan 2

Prof Mary S. Morgan is Albert O. Hirschman Professor of History and Philosophy of Economics in the Department of Economic History at LSE. Her research addresses the practical side of how economists do economics, and how this has changed over the last century. She is currently working on projects on poverty measurement, on how economics gets used to change things in the world, and on the ways narrative forms of explanation are used in the sciences.

Alan Manning

Prof Alan Manning is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Director of the Community Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE. His research focuses on labour markets, imperfect competition (monopsony), minimum wages, job polarization, immigration and gender.

stephen machin

Prof Stephen Machin is Research Director for LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, and Professor of Economics at UCL. His current areas of research include labour market inequality, economics of education and economics of crime.

Fran Tonkiss

Prof Fran Tonkiss is Professor of Sociology and Deputy Head of the Sociology Department at LSE. Her research and teaching is in the fields of urban and economic sociology. Her interests in urbanism include cities and social theory, urban inequalities, spatial divisions and public space. In economic sociology, her research focuses on markets, globalisation, trust and social capital.

Suzi Hall

Dr Suzi Hall is an urban ethnographer and her work focuses on urban migration in the context of marginalised parts of UK cities. Incorporating her previous practice as an architect, Suzi explores how to visualize global processes of migration and urbanization, and their relationships with city streets and economies. 

Anne Power

Prof Anne Power has been involved in European and American housing and urban problems since 1965. She is Professor of Social Policy and is head of LSE Housing and Communities, a research group based within the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. She is a visiting senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in the USA, and leads the Weak Market Cities programme at LSE helping to regenerate former industrial cities across Europe in a more sustainable way. 

Emily Grundy

Prof Emily Grundy is Professor of Demography in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. Most of her research has been focussed on ageing, with her main interests being in families, households and social support in later life; trends and differentials in health and disability, and the long term consequences of partnership and parenting trajectories for health and well-being in later life.

Tim Newburn

Prof Tim Newburn is Professor of Criminology and Social Policy in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. His research focuses on the changing nature of policing and security arrangements in late modern societies; public disorder, riots and the penal and policy response to such events: the nature of, and explanations for, youth offending and social exclusion: trends in alcohol and drug use; the history of criminal justice; and, the nature of comparative criminal justice and penal policy making.

John Hills

Prof John Hills is Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy in the Department of Social Policy at LSE. He was director for the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion from 1997 to 2016, and is currently co-director of the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute. His work has focused on inequality, the welfare state, and the role of social policy over the life course. His most recent book, co-edited with colleagues, is Social Policy in a Cold Climate: Policies and their consequences since the crisis (Policy Press, 2016).