Further to this email, I have received a reply. Please find it below, followed by my response.
Email from NatCen representative
Dear Mr Swanepoel,Thank you for participating in the ‘Necessities of Life’ study. We are also grateful for the comments you have sent through on the survey content.It might be useful for you to have a bit more background about the project. The aim of the ‘Necessities of Life’ study is to identify those items and activities that most people regard as necessary for a decent standard of life in Britain today. Not all items on the list (e.g. designer clothes for children, dishwashers or MP3 players) will been deemed necessary by most people – indeed, many people, like yourself, will regard some of the items as quite materialistic. By contrast, it is likely that other items (e.g. three meals a day for children/ being able to visit family members) may be seen as ‘essentials’ for most people.A parallel study, called ‘Living Standards In Britain 2012’, is also currently running. This study asks people about what items they have or don’t have (either because they can’t afford them or because they don’t want them), using a similar list of items as the ‘Necessities of Life’ study. The results of this second study will then be compared to a list of things that at least 50% of the population said were necessities of daily living (as identified in the ‘Necessities of Life’ study), and will help us measure the extent of poverty in the UK today.In other surveys, lists of ‘essential’ items have been drawn up by government agencies or academics. This study is innovative because we are asking the population what they think is necessary. This may not be a perfect methodology, but I do believe it is an improvement on past research studies.Do feel free to get back in touch with me if you have any further queries, comments or concerns.Best wishes and thanks,
Thank you for your answer. I feel you have not understood the point I was making. By mentioning only material things, and therefore tacitly accepting the way life in Britain is today instead of offering people the opportunity of explaining and contextualising their answers, you will only able to interpret the results within the framework of materialism/consumerism. I feel you have missed an important opportunity to produce something truly useful and interesting, and I fear that your results will be interpreted in such a way as to reinforce prejudices and serve the narrow interests and agendas of those who defend the way UK society is currently structured. I do wish you had entered into dialogue with others before compiling this survey. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the New Economics Foundation and Oxfam spring to mind.