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Relationships between recreation and pollution when striving for wellbeing in blue spaces

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Clifton EversORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Our aim for this research was to identify and examine how recreation enthusiasts cope with and mitigate the violence of pollution as they strive for wellbeing in polluted “blue spaces” (e.g., seas, oceans). Our methodology to undertake the research was ethnography (online and offline), including autoethnography and informal interviews (40). The study proceeded from a constructivist epistemology which emphasizes that knowledge is situated and perspectival. The study site was a post-industrial area of northeast England where a long-standing but also rapidly growing surfing culture has to live with pollution (legacy and ongoing). We found evidence of what have become quotidian tactics that attach to themes of familiarity, embodiment, resignation, denial, and affect/emotion used by enthusiasts to cope with and mitigate the violence of pollution. We argue that by necessity some surfers are persisting in striving for wellbeing not simply in spite of pollution but rather with pollution. We assert surfers enact a “resigned activism” that influences their persistence. We extend critical scholarship concerning relationships between recreation, blue spaces, and wellbeing by moving beyond a restrictive binary of focusing on either threats and risks or opportunities and benefits of blue space to health and wellbeing, instead showing how striving for wellbeing through recreation in the presence of pollution provides evidence of how such efforts are more negotiated, fluid, situated, uncertain, dissonant, and even political than any such binary structure allows for.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Evers C, Phoenix C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Year: 2022

Volume: 19

Issue: 7

Online publication date: 31/03/2022

Acceptance date: 26/03/2022

Date deposited: 31/03/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1660-4601

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19074170

Notes: Special Issue: Sports and Health: Attitudes and Issues in Creating Sustainability within the Mountain Biking and Surfing Communities


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