British Academy Policy Press Peter Townsend prize

We are very pleased to sponsor the British Academy Peter Townsend prize. As the deadline (31st January 2015) draws near for this year’s nominations Policy Press director Alison Shaw explains the purpose and background to the prize and reflects on the personal relationship between Policy Press and Peter Townsend.

Policy Press - 018 resizeAfter the influential British sociologist and academic Peter Townsend died in 2009, The British Academy wanted to honour his immense contribution to the social sciences by establishing a prize that recognised excellence in social policy and sociology. They asked Policy Press to sponsor this and we were delighted to do so.

The prize is for an outstanding published work of policy relevance and academic merit in the areas which Peter made his own: poverty and inequality; ageing and the lives of older people, disability and inequalities in health. Peter set very high standards for both research, and for presenting those arguments in a way that influenced policy and practice, and we hope that this prize will similarly recognize such achievements in other works.

Nominations for this biennial prize are now open and close on 31 January, 2015. The nominated work must have been published within five years of the closing date for nominations, be available in English and the author must be a resident of the UK. An article, a book in more than one volume, or a series of closely related articles will count as a single work. The prize is judged by an expert panel from the British Academy. For further information please go to the British Academy website here.

Please do nominate those contributions you have read that you feel deserve recognition. The previous winners were:

2013 Tracy Shildrick, Robert MacDonald, Colin Webster and Kayleigh Garthwaite for Poverty and insecurity: life in low-pay, no-pay Britain
2011 Julia Johnson, Sheena Rolph, Randall Smith for Residential care transformed: revisiting ‘The last refuge’


Peter Townsend, 2008. Photograph: Sarah Lee, Guardian

Peter Townsend, 2008. Photograph: Sarah Lee, Guardian

It was our great honour to work with Peter Townsend on several projects, and in particular, we were collaborating with him on a reader of his work when he sadly passed away. Peter was a truly inspirational figure combining both an outstanding academic career with an equally impressive participation in public life. His publication list nears 600 pieces, including several seminal works, he was an excellent teacher and a committed campaigner.

Peter co-founded, and remained actively involved with, both the Child Poverty Action Group and the Disability Alliance. He argued strongly for a minimum standard of living that would allow all citizens, whatever their circumstances, to be able to participate in the norms of society. He worked closely with UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation, latterly campaigning for a global child benefit as a means of reducing poverty. He was advisor to the United Nations and closely involved in the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 working for clearer definitions of ‘absolute’ and ‘overall’ poverty.

On a personal note, I remain humbled that despite Peter’s influence and accomplishments, Peter chose to work with Policy Press when we were a fledgling publishing house with little track record, because, he could of course, have published anywhere. We established the series Studies in Poverty, Inequality and Social Exclusion with Dave Gordon and the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research in 1999 to which Peter contributed many times.

If you liked this you may be interested in the following Policy Press titles – all available on the Policy Press website at 20% discount:
The Peter Townsend reader [FC]The Peter Townsend Reader – edited by Alan Walker, David Gordon, Ruth Levitas, Peter Phillimore, Chris Phillipson, Margot E. Salomon, Nicola Yeates
Fighting poverty, inequality and injustice: a manifesto inspired by Peter Townsend –  by Alan Walker, Adrian Sinfield, Carol Walker
World poverty: new policies to defeat an old enemy by Peter Townsend, David Gordon
Global child poverty and wellbeing by Alberto Minujin, Shailen Nandy
Poverty and social exclusion in Britain: the millennium survey by Christina Pantazis, David Gordon, Ruth Levitas
Breadline Europe: the measurement of poverty by David Gordon, Peter Townsend
Child poverty in the developing world by David Gordon, Shailen Nandy, Christina Pantazis, Simon A. Pemberton, Peter Townsend
Tackling inequalities: where are we now and what can be done by Christina Pantazis, David Gordon
Inequalities in health by David Gordon, Mary Shaw, Daniel Dorling, George Davey Smith

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