I think Charles Booth was a remarkable scientist. He took scientific research and applied it to the social sciences in a way that was very rare at the time. Indeed, modern sociology was still a fledgling branch of science when Booth undertook his study of London’s poverty. It is certainly unfair to think of Booth as anything but an intellectual and humanitarian pioneer. His application of modern quantitative and qualitative research techniques (as opposed to the “best guess” methods of many of his peers) played an important role in shedding light on the truly mortifying situation that had beset what had once been the greatest city in the world.
Archive for January, 2008
I think it’s very fascinating to look at the patterns that appear on Booth’s Poor Maps. The majority of the destitue were clumped in one area, to the northeast of the river, and at the south end was where the most well-to-do people lived. Booth was very dedicated in his mission to show how the layout of the city in regards to the poor/rich was at the time, and it opened a lot of people’s eyes.
I think that it was amazing that Booth was able to map the city of London by income, occupation, education, and other resources. He heard that the poverty rate was 25%, thought that it was lower, and went to seek answers for himself instead of just believing someone else. In that work, he determined that the poverty rate was actually much higher than previously thought. Just because Booth wouldnt believe anything he heard he embarked on a 12 year journey gathering data and trying to make a difference in East End London. He wanted to solve the problem where it began and not what it became. In looking at the maps, I am simply amazed that a man in 1888 was able to dedicate that much work and detail into mapping London. Simply astonishing!
It is pretty amazing to think that Charles Booth was one of the leading men to help get London out of poverty and change the way the people live forever. He seems to have been a very hard working and dedicated man to work non-stop and still want to help the poor who live just a few blocks away from him. The maps are also very interesting to look at and see the changes from then and now.
Charles Booth appears to have been very driven in his lifetime. It must have required an insane amount of work to personally oversee the collection of data for every street in London in addition to being a highly successful business man and maintaining successful personal relationships. It seems like it would take much longer than it should have to achieve a complete mapping like Booth did. One of the more interesting things I found in these readings was that Booth was originally interested in beginning this process because he felt that the estimate of people living under the poverty line was too high and ended up proving that it was even higher. Also that as time passed his data showed that the poverty rate was actually higher than his first thought. Another thing I found interesting was looking at the maps themselves and it being so easy to see how divided the city really was.
the first thought that jumps into my mind when i think of victorian england are the top hats and fancy dresses, i know about the poor people and about many of them starving to death, i didnt not know about them fighting over table scraps of the upper classes
I found Booth’s process to be very interesting. The way he researched was so very different than London’s “undercover” look at the poor of London. Booth looks at the entire picture of London. He finds the highs and lows and in between. In many ways his writings and maps are much more “accurate” than London’s, but he lacks the human interest and specific details that London seems to really embrace. They also looked for very different information in their research. London just sought to document misery and suffering, while Booth was looking for the root of the problems. Both are equally passionate, London just goes about it like an author and Booth looks at it like the business man that he was. Of course, Booth was also working with a very different end in mind. The goal of his writings and maps was to create a sort of database of information that the British government could use to improve the lives of it’s citizens. These maps would totally change how we take censuses and what we do with the information we gather within them.
When thinking of the massive scale that Booth worked with to compile all this information, it is fairly astounding. Just the leg work involved in getting the research was a titanic venture, and the fact that he managed to legible assemble into something accessible. It is an astonishing piece of work.