Deindustrialisation and industrial communities: the Lanarkshire coalfields c.1947-1983

Gibbs, Ewan (2016) Deindustrialisation and industrial communities: the Lanarkshire coalfields c.1947-1983. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis examines deindustrialisation, the declining contribution of industrial activities to economic output and employment, in Lanarkshire, Scotland’s largest coalfield between the early nineteenth and mid-twentieth century. It focuses on contraction between the National Coal Board’s (NCB) vesting in 1947 and the closure of Lanarkshire’s last colliery, Cardowan, in 1983. Deindustrialisation was not the natural outcome of either market forces or geological exhaustion. Colliery closures and falling coal employment were the result of policy-makers’ decisions. The thesis consists of four thematic chapters: political economy, moral economy, class and community, and generation and gender. The analysis is based on archival sources including Scottish Office reports and correspondence relating to regional policy, and NCB records. These are supported by National Union of Mineworkers Scottish Area and STUC meeting minutes, and oral history testimonies from over 30 men and women with Lanarkshire coalfield backgrounds, as well as two focus groups.

The first two chapters analyse the process of deindustrialisation, with the first offering a top-down perspective and the second a bottom-up viewpoint. In chapter one deindustrialisation is analysed through changes in political economy. Shifts in labour market structure are examined through the development of regional policy and its administration by the Scottish Office. The analysis centres upon a policy network of Scottish business elites and civil servants who shaped a vision of modernisation via industrial diversification through attracting inward investment. In chapter two the perspective shifts to community and workforce. It analyses responses to coalfield contraction through a moral economy of customary rights to colliery employment. A detailed investigation of Lanarkshire colliery closures between the 1940s and 1980s emphasises the protracted nature of deindustrialisation.

Chapters three and four consider the social and cultural structures which shaped the moral economy but were heavily altered by deindustrialisation. Chapter three focuses on the dense networks that linked occupation, community, and class consciousness. Increasing coalfield centralisation and remote control of pits from NCB headquarters in London, and mounting hostility to coal closures, contributed to an accentuated sense of Scottish-ness. Chapter four illuminates gender and generational dimensions. The differing experiences of cohorts of men who faced either early retirement, redundancy or transfer to alternative sectors, or those who never attained anticipated industrial employment due to final closures, are analysed in terms of constructions of masculinity and the endurance of cultural as well as material losses. This is counterpoised to women who gained industrial work in assembly plants and the perceived gradual attainment of an improved economic and social position whilst continuing to navigate structures of patriarchy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Deindustrialisation, coal mining, community, moral economy, energy, oral history, Scotland, industry, employment, trade unionism, industrial relations.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Supervisor's Name: Phillips, Dr. Jim and Ross, Dr. Duncan
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Dr Ewan Gibbs
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7751
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2016 14:16
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 10:10

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