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Recent advances in using socially perceived necessities to measure poverty

29 November 2012
12:30 - 14:00

Date : 29 November 2012

Time : 12:30 – 14:00

Presented by Prof Dave Gordon, Director, Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research, University of Bristol, UK

Joanna Mack and Stewart Lansley pioneered the ‘consensual’ or ‘perceived deprivation’ approach to measuring poverty by investigating the public’s perceptions of minimum needs:

“This study tackles the question ‘how poor is too poor?’ by identifying the minimum acceptable way of life for Britain in the 1980s. Those who have no choice but to fall below this minimum level can be said to be ‘in poverty’.

This concept is developed in terms of those who have an enforced lack of socially perceived necessities. This means that the ‘necessities’ of life are identified by public opinion and not by, on the one hand, the views of experts or, on the other hand, the norms of behaviour per se.” (Mack and Lansley, 1985)

Since the 1980’s, the social perceived necessities approach has been widely used by both Governments and academics in many countries around the world.

It has two major advantages, firstly it can be used to measure poverty in all countries and cultures, irrespective of their low, middle or high income status. Secondly, it is the best method currently available for incorporating the views of the general public in the measurement of poverty.  This means that poverty measures based on the social perceived necessities approach can be shown to be both scientific and socially realistic, with broad public support.

This talk will provide a brief overview of the use of social perceived necessities to measure poverty around the world and then discuss recent advances with this approach.

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Kindly RSVP by 26 November 2012

This seminar may be attended via video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Details as below.  

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban :  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: