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
Speaker: Prof 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.
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.
Session 3: Housing, Health, Personal Circumstances, Criminality - Then and Now
Speakers: Dr Suzi Hall (LSE Cities), Profs Anne Power (LSE Social Policy Dept), Emily Grundy (LSE Social Policy Dept) and Tim Newburn (Social Policy Dept)
Chair: Dr 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.
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.