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Relationships between Recreation and Pollution When Striving for Wellbeing in Blue Spaces

Evers, Clifton and Phoenix, Cassandra (2022) 'Relationships between Recreation and Pollution When Striving for Wellbeing in Blue Spaces.', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (7). p. 4170.


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.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:26 March 2022
Date deposited:06 July 2022
Date of first online publication:03 April 2022
Date first made open access:06 July 2022

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