Archives par mot-clé : Großbritannien

“Modern” poverty measurement in Britain and Germany

Across Europe and elsewhere – though notably not in America – standard methods of measuring poverty is employed in contemporary official statistics. These include Eurostat’s poverty statistics, but also national statistical publications like the UK’s Households Below Average Income and the Armutsberichte in Germany. Rather than the cross-national comparative dimension of official statistics that Anne and I wrote about in a previous post, during a stay in London in July 2015 I’ve been researching the history of such poverty measures within British national official statistics from 1975 to 1995.

Estimates of poverty produced by the Child Poverty Action Group in 1986
Estimates of poverty produced by the Child Poverty Action Group in 1986, using official estimates from the DHSS series “Low Income Families”. From a press release archived in a DHSS folder.

Archival material1 and interviews show how the contemporary form of official poverty statistics developed out of existing data, conventions and activities within British official statistics. At the end of this post I’ll try to sketch some connections between the conventions of poverty measurement and the wider economic and political changes which took place rapidly in Britain from 1980 (the “inequality turn”), and only later and rather differently in Germany.
Continuer la lecture de “Modern” poverty measurement in Britain and Germany

  1. As an aside: for a sociologist interested in the state, but new to archival work, there is a very seductive quality to national archives, with ribbon-bound buff folders, typewritten memoranda and annotations. It feels like one really is, at last, observing The State. In the course of various research I’ve interviewed a good number of civil servants, and their professional caution and circumspection is one distinguishing feature of such conversations. In contrast, the internal correspondence gives the effect of showing raison d’État at work – although, of course, circumspection is just as much as part of the “state effect”. I’d welcome any good literature suggestions on this, the problems of studying the state from different sources. []

European and anti-European identities in the UK

For reasons much like those that Friederike sets out in her superbly sharp post, I couldn’t suppress an little inward groan on visiting the slick 1989 Generation website. It’s not that it wants for sincerity; that the authors are “passionate” about the European project is clearly announced. It brims with confidence in the ability of “the brightest” to meet the seriousness of the moment and come up with a “new mission”. Brief experience with something similar as an invitee to an Apeldoorn Conference  makes me think it’s not easy to set aside politics and at the same time come up with original political ideas.

An elite project need not necessarily be a bad one, but if that, as a factual description, holds, and if there is disappointment in the current generation of “politicians and technocrats”, what are the alternative bases of social power and legitimacy through which an alternative project might be advanced?

Continuer la lecture de European and anti-European identities in the UK

Bedeutet der Abbau des Sozialstaates den Abbau der Sozialstatistik?

Number of statisticians in the Government Statistical Services 2000-2013In einer Zeit, wo „Austerität“ die Rede ist und Regierungen versuchen, ihre Ausgaben zusammenzustreichen, entgehen Ausgaben für amtliche Statistik nicht der Aufmerksamkeit. Es lässt sich auch glauben, dass je weniger der Staat eine aktive und umfangreiche Sozialpolitik betreibt, umso weniger muss er über soziale Tatbestände wissen – oder, wenn man es zynisch ansähe, umso weniger will er darüber wissen lassen.

Sicherlich war dies der Fall am Anfang der 80er in Großbritannien. Als Thatcher zum ersten Mal zur Macht kam, gab sie eine Untersuchung des Umfanges und der Struktur der amtlichen Statistik bekannt. Diese Untersuchung wurde von dem ehemaligen Unternehmer Derek Rayner geleitet und der Vollzug seiner Empfehlungen wurde die „Rayner Reforms“ benannt1. Diese führten zu erheblichen Verringerungen des statistischen Personals (zu etwa 30%) und der Ausgaben sowohl der Streichung einiger Erhebungen, z.B. die zur Vermögensverteilung. Zu derselben Zeit in Deutschland, wo die amtliche Sozialstatistik noch schwach im Vergleich mit der Wirtschaftsstatistik blieb, war es gefürchtet, dass der bestehende Fortschritt in diesem Bereich durch Kürzungen gefährdet würde.

Continuer la lecture de Bedeutet der Abbau des Sozialstaates den Abbau der Sozialstatistik?

  1. Die Geschichte der „Rayner Reforms“ und ihre Wirkungen auf die Sozialstatistik werden ausführlich von Ruth Levitas dargestellt: Levitas, R., 1996. The Legacy of Rayner. In R. Levitas & W. Guy, eds. Interpreting Official Statistics. London: Routledge. []