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Peter Townsend Prize

The Peter Townsend Prize, worth £2000, is awarded biennially for outstanding work with policy relevance on a topic to which Townsend made a major contribution.

It is awarded in commemoration of Professor Peter Townsend, one of the most distinguished global figures in contemporary social policy and sociology. As an international researcher and public intellectual, he made an immeasurable contribution to analysis and policy-making in the areas of poverty and inequality, health inequalities, disability and older people. He was a Fellow of the British Academy. This prize was established to honour his memory following his death in 2009. The Prize was first awarded in 2011.


Eligible nominations can be for a published work with policy relevance and academic merit on poverty and inequality; ageing and the lives of older people; disability and inequalities in health. 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 habitual resident of the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. An article, a book in more than one volume, or a series of closely related articles will count as a single work. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

Nominations for the Peter Townsend Prize closed on the 31 January 2019. 

Supported by Policy Press, University of Bristol 

Nominating body: Sociology, Demography and Social Statistics Section

Previous Winners

2017  Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite for Hunger Pains: Life inside foodbank Britain (Policy Press, 2016)

2015  Professor Andrew Sayer for Why We Can’t Afford the Rich

2013  Professor Tracy Shildrick, Professor Robert MacDonald, Professor Colin Webster and Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite for Poverty and insecurity: life in low-pay, no-pay Britain

2011  Ms Julia Johnson, Ms Sheena Rolph and Mr Randall Smith for Residential Care Transformed: Revisiting ‘The Last Refuge’