Thursday, May 27, 2010

PS544: Charles Booth's measure of poverty


Booth ClassificationDescription of class
AThe lowest class which consists of some occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals. Their life is the life of savages, with vicissitudes of extreme hardship and their only luxury is drink
BCasual earnings, very poor. The labourers do not get as much as three days work a week, but it is doubtful if many could or would work full time for long together if they had the opportunity. Class B is not one in which men are born and live and die so much as a deposit of those who from mental, moral and physical reasons are incapable of better work
CIntermittent earning. 18s to 21s per week for a moderate family. The victims of competition and on them falls with particular severity the weight of recurrent depressions of trade. Labourers, poorer artisans and street sellers. This irregularity of employment may show itself in the week or in the year: stevedores and waterside porters may secure only one of two days' work in a week, whereas labourers in the building trades may get only eight or nine months in a year.
DSmall regular earnings. poor, regular earnings. Factory, dock, and warehouse labourers, carmen, messengers and porters. Of the whole section none can be said to rise above poverty, nor are many to be classed as very poor. As a general rule they have a hard struggle to make ends meet, but they are, as a body, decent steady men, paying their way and bringing up their children respectably.
ERegular standard earnings, 22s to 30s per week for regular work, fairly comfortable. As a rule the wives do not work, but the children do: the boys commonly following the father, the girls taking local trades or going out to service.
FHigher class labour and the best paid of the artisans. Earnings exceed 30s per week. Foremen are included, city warehousemen of the better class and first hand lightermen; they are usually paid for responsibility and are men of good character and much intelligence.
GLower middle class. Shopkeepers and small employers, clerks and subordinate professional men. A hardworking sober, energetic class.
HUpper middle class, servant keeping class.

1 comment:

  1. Paulina CalfucoyJune 2, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    It is interesting how he includes quantitative and qualitative variables for building his measure of poverty. He includes income as well as characteristics of life style, together with an idea about the relationship between the different classes in terms of subordination.
    In terms of measurement of those variables it seems very hard to define the lines between them, specially when you can have different mixes of income and life styles within a particular class. This example is an important contribution to analyze the conditions of excludability in the definition of cathegories and the contribution of a proper theoretical definition to build a measurement of social class

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