Sociology Index

Peter Townsend

Among distinguished sociologists, Peter Townsend, currently Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bristol, and author of possibly one of the most extensive surveys in the twentieth-century, Poverty in the United Kingdom. Born in Middlesbrough in 1928, Townsend has spent his career promoting social reform through the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). Peter Townsend began his studies of poverty with Brian Abel-Smith in order to demonstrate the persistence of poverty in affluent, post-war Britain. Peter Townsend's Poverty in the United Kingdom has been described as a 'bible' for the poverty lobby (Donnison, 1979) but it has nonetheless had little effect in terms of reform, which would not greatly surprise Townsend but merely disappoint him.

Definition Of Relative Poverty - Townsend, P. (1979). Poverty in the United Kingdom. London: Penguin. "Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and the amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged or approved in the societies to which they belong. Their resources are so seriously below those commanded by the average family that they are in effect excluded from the ordinary living patterns, customs, and activities.