The social research used in this report is Rowntree’s seminal 1902 study that addressed the consumption of food for those in poverty. This body of research focused upon the biological, nutritional needs of the body and the ways in which socio-environmental constraints would alter the intake of nutrition and the ideation of diets. This research was one of the earliest bodies of social research and in many ways changed the scope of political evidence. The research was also related to other work that had been undergone in the area of dietary requirements. However, the main concern for this former research for Rowntree was that it had not considered the quality of diets, only focusing upon the quantity, in which no gap or difference between the condition of poverty and affluence had emerged. By considering the quality of the diet by inclusion of contemporary nutritional experts, Rowntree was then able to address differences between those in the condition of poverty and those that were not.
The method employed by Rowntree in this experiment was a gathering of secondary literature based upon the body’s nutritional needs matched against some quantitative data relating to the difference in consumption across two conditions. In this sense, the methodology followed the same format often employed in contemporary social and psychological research. Essentially, the use of independent and dependent variables meant that the form of the research followed the method of the positivist experiment. However, the way in which the research was written up is somewhat different to the modern social experiment, in that the research followed a more elaborate essay style format. Nevertheless, the analysis of the secondary research follows the contemporary analysis common to social sciences.
Results and Findings
The experiment found that there were differences between the consumption of those in the condition of poverty and those not in the condition of poverty. The findings showed what the poverty line was. The findings calculated that the minimum amount required to ascertain the correct dietary needs of the family at the time of writing was 3s 3d for males, 2s 9d for females and 2s 7d for children between the ages of 8-18, 2s 1d for children between the ages of 3-8 and 2s 1d for children under the age of 3 (Rowntree, 1902). This was calculated through matching the average prices of goods against the values of nutrition required for a healthy life style. Extraneous variables were also taken into account, including clothing costs.
The findings of the discussion clearly indicated a significant difference between those in the condition of poverty and those not in the condition of poverty in relation to the nutritional content and quality/efficiency of diet. Rowntree was subsequently able to indicate the need for changes to the conditions of those in poverty due to the potential damage associated with bad eating habits, such as with those of the working class, and indicated the need and scope for future research related to the topic. Although Rowntree was able to present evidence of conditional differences due to the variable of poverty in terms of quantitative data, he was also keen to point out the role of ideological factors that led to a poor understanding of food nutrition and the relationship with diet, such as the relative lack of education.