Book on how people in rural China cope with pollution wins BBC/British Sociological Association Ethnography Prize

A book on how people in rural China cope with pollution has won this year's prestigious BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Prize.

Resigned Activism: Living with Pollution in Rural China (MIT Press) by Anna Lora-Wainwright, of the University of Oxford, wins £1,000 as part of the award, which is run by the Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed in association with the BSA.

Resigned Activism explores pollution and daily life in three villages in rural China and the varying forms of activism that develop in response. To write the book, Dr Lora-Wainwright drew on extended fieldwork living alongside lead-zinc miners, electronic waste recyclers and workers at a fertiliser plant.

The award judges praised her for “the manner in which she coped with the danger to her own body and health” during the research.

The book finds that people’s efforts to seek redress are frustrated by limited access to scientific evidence, growing socio-economic inequalities and complex local realities.

It shows that villagers’ responses to pollution are uneven and do not follow predictable patterns.

The ethnography award is given to a book or article that has made a significant contribution to ethnography, the in-depth, descriptive analysis of the life of a culture or sub-culture.

It was presented to Dr Lora-Wainwright by the Thinking Allowed presenter Laurie Taylor at the BSA’s annual conference at Northumbria University in Newcastle today. [Thursday 12 April 2018]

The book was selected from a list of six books and one journal article.

For more information, please contact: 

Tony Trueman
British Sociological Association
Tel: 07964 023392


  1. The British Sociological Association’s annual conference takes place at Northumbria University, Newcastle, from 10 to 12 April 2018. Over 700 research presentations are given. The British Sociological Association’s charitable aim is to promote sociology. The BSA is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England and Wales. Company Number: 3890729. Registered Charity Number 1080235