“In intensity of feeling, and not in statistics, lies the power to move the world”
Charles Booth, an English entrepreneur turned social researcher and reformer, was a pioneer in documenting the life of the working class. He was born into a wealthy Liverpudlian ship-owning, merchant family. Charles would later establish the ‘Booth Steamship Company’ enterprise to very much success. Alongside his investments, Booth ventured into social studies and published, for the first time ever, work on the measurement of poverty in his “Life and Labour of the People in London”. Published in 1902, it is seen in modern times as one of the founding texts of British sociology.
He is credited with creating the concept “poverty line”, term he came about when looking at his company’s ship fleet. He made a parallel between the floating lines of his ships and poverty, and understood that if a person didn’t meet his monetary needs he or she was living below an imaginary line, a ‘floating’ or ‘poverty’ line.
For 17 years Charles Booth worked on his reports while he continued with his maritime business: he would write at night, on weekends and during journeys. He refused to pay others to do the fieldwork for him and would therefore spend his time living with the poorest families in London at their home. He submitted his findings to the then called Statistical Society of London and claimed: “in feelings, not in statistics, lies the power to move the world”.
“El origen de la línea de la pobreza.” Los Andes. Miércoles, May 21, 2008. Desde :http://www.losandes.com.ar/noticia/sociedad-359932