The Measurement of Poverty in South Africa Project: Key issues

Poverty is a contested concept; and it is contested with good reason. Arguments over how poverty should be conceptualised, defined and measured go beyond semantics and academic hair-splitting. The conceptualisation, definition and measurement of poverty in a society is like a mirror-image of the ideals of that society: in conceptualising, defining and measuring what is unacceptable in a society we are also saying a great deal about the way we would like things to be. It is therefore vital that the concepts, definitions and measurements of poverty, as well as being theoretically robust, are appropriate to the society in which they are applied.