Solidarity, class and labour agency: mapping networks of support between London and the coalfields during the 1984-5 miners’ strike

Kelliher, Diarmaid (2017) Solidarity, class and labour agency: mapping networks of support between London and the coalfields during the 1984-5 miners’ strike. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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From March 1984 to March 1985, over 150,000 British coal miners walked out on strike in protest at plans for widespread closures in the industry. Alongside the strike developed a large and diverse support movement, both within Britain and internationally. This thesis focuses on the solidarity campaign in London, a city far from the heartlands of the coal industry. The support movement outside of the coalfield areas has been relatively understudied in the years since the dispute, and this thesis is a contribution to recuperating this important history. The four central empirical chapters are organised thematically. The first explores relationships developed between London and the coalfields from the late 1960s, arguing that the support of 1984-5 must be rooted in ongoing mutual relationships of solidarity. The second describes the diverse spaces and sites in which the support movement was enacted, and how distinct tactics such as twinning and forms of politicised mobility reduced the distance between London and mining areas, enabling the development of personal relationships across space. The third focuses on the weaknesses of the support movement, working-class opposition to the strike, and the relationship between this absence of solidarity and the anti-union rhetoric of elites. In the fourth empirical chapter, I emphasise how the intersecting politics of class, race, gender and sexuality were raised through the miners’ strike solidarity movement, and the forging of new relationships across spatial and social boundaries.

Through a study of the miners’ support movement, this thesis makes a number of central theoretical contributions. It is concerned firstly with developing an account of translocal solidarity as a generative relationship that can construct connections across social and geographical boundaries, and develop new political theories and practices. Secondly, I argue for an intersectional approach to class as a way of rejecting simplistic divisions between the politics of class, gender, sexuality and race. In particular, I highlight intersectionality as a historical process whereby relationships of solidarity across space inform a politics that is simultaneously able to recognise differences and develop commonalities. Thirdly, I emphasise how translocal networks of solidarity contribute to relational constructions of place, but that such an understanding is not inimical to a deep, historically rooted local development of class. Fourthly, I argue that a spatially and temporally dynamic understanding of the construction of cultures of mutual solidarity can contribute significantly to how we think about labour agency.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Solidarity, class, agency, London, coalfields, 1984-5 miners' strike.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Supervisor's Name: Featherstone, Dr. David and Cumbers, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Dr Diarmaid Kelliher
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8030
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2017 12:13
Last Modified: 31 May 2017 07:22

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