The video interviews: an overview

Seventeen people who were either involved in the 1968/69 'Poverty in the UK' survey itself or in closely related work have been interviewed for the Townsend archive. These included five members of the original research team, eight fieldworkers, and five academics colleagues, government advisors or campaigners. These interviews are currently being uploaded to the website and will be accessible through the left hand menu.

Many of those involved in the 1968/69 research project went on to influential academic careers in social policy and other related areas. Many also became closely involved in various campaigns to tackle, for examples, child poverty, low pay, gender equality, and disability. In these interviews, they look back over this period and reflect on the impact, or otherwise, of poverty research on the policy and on lessons learnt.

‘I think if you get seriously into poverty studies you see that you have to move on to look at inequality, you can’t stop with poverty.’

David Donnison, Emeritus Professor in Urban Studies, University of Glasgow.

‘There was a movement which connected with other movements, and it seems to me that’s one of the differences now… you haven't got the same levers on the system that would actually make a change.’

Hilary Land, Emeritus Professor of Family Policy and Child Welfare, University of Bristol.

‘Why it [poverty] hasn’t been abolished.  …  One, there was a kind of reliance on the economy to deliver two things: one full employment and two a sort of fairly stable distribution of earnings.  And that hasn’t been the case.  ...  And it’s led to much more expenditure on the working poor by the public sector.  And I suppose the other factor is that political concern has diminished.’

David Piachaud, Professor Social Policy, LSE.

‘I mean the real weakness of the poverty lobby, it seems to have that everybody's poor is no poor.  …  And also none of them took into account human nature, in that self-interest is our biggest driving force, and therefore for a successful anti-poverty strategy, we’ve got to show it's in the interest of the people who are going to pay for it.’

Frank Field, Chair of the Work and Pensions select committee.

The interviews covered:

  • the participant’s role in the original research project and the working practices at that time
  • their views on the impact of the 'Poverty in the UK' survey, and subsequent Townsend book, on poverty research and on the wider political process
  • their views on the extent of continuity or change in the research process since the mid-sixties
  • their views on whether, and how, the relationship bewtween research and policy-making has changed since the mid-sixties. 

A list of topics covered in the interviews can be found here.

The interviewees

Poverty in the UK research officers- WATCH NOW

Hilary Land, research officer at the LSE, now Emeritus Professor of Family Policy and Child Welfare, University of Bristol.
Adrian Sinfield, research officer at the University of Essex, now Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Edinburgh - COMING SOON
John Veit-Wilson, research officer at the University of Essex, now Emeritus Professor Sociology, Newcastle University - COMING SOON

Poverty in the UK research assistants - WATCH NOW

John Bond, research assistant at the University of Essex, now Professor of Social Gerontology and Health Services Research, Newcastle University
Alan Walker, research assistant at the University of Essex, now Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology, University of Sheffield

Academic colleagues - WATCH NOW

David Donnison, then LSE academic colleague, now Emeritus Professor in Urban Studies, University of Glasgow.
Steve Winyard, then a post-graduate student University of Essex, now Head of Policy and Campaigns, RNIB.

Others colleagues - WATCH NOW

Frank Field, then Chair, Child Poverty Action Group, now Labour MP for Birkenhead and Chair of the Work and Pensions select committee  
David Piachaud, then Special advisor, Department of Health and Social Security, now Professor Social Policy, LSE
Zsuzsa Ferge, then at the Hungarian Statistical Office, now Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Eotvos University, Budapest - COMING SOON

Poverty in the UK survey fieldworkers - COMING SOON

Angela Avens, noted in Townsend book as a main interviewer
Andrea Cordani, noted in Townsend book as helping with difficult areas or in the final stages
Deidre Forsyth, not included in Townsend book credits, but conducted surveys
Morag Macdonald, not included in Townsend book credits, but conducted surveys
Ian McCannah, noted in Townsend book as helping with difficult areas or in the final stages
Annie Neligan, noted in Townsend book as helping with difficult areas or in the final stages
Una Widdett, noted in Townsend book as helping with difficult areas or in the final stages

You can download the full list of interviewees with their role in the project and their current role here.

Credits

The interviews, which were part of the ‘Poverty in the UK: Advancing paradata and open access' research project, were conducted by Karen Bell (university of Bristol) and Heather Elliot (Institute of Education, UCL). Please credit the Townsend archive for any material used.


 

 

Publication date: 
Oct 5 2016