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Community and struggle: a sociological study of a mining village in the 1980s

By John Murphy


This study is concerned with the process by which community among working class people is defined and redefined in the course of collective political activity. Specifically it analyses the potential role of trade unions in the development of community in residential settlements where the labour market is shaped by a major workplace. The empirical research was carried out in two Yorkshire mining villages in the three years following the 1984/85 Miners' Strike. A range of research techniques were employed to investigate the nature of `community' in the villages before, during and after the Strike. The first part of the thesis provides the necessary historical and political context, investigating the development of the miners' union and the issues involved in the 1984/85 Strike. The second part consists of an ethnographic study of Armthorpe, a village with an open pit. I describe the process by which the union branch, as the vehicle through which the coalmining population collectively encountered their employers and the state, provided a core around which a democratic and dynamic village community could be developed. I outline the population's mobilisation in 1984/85 and analyse the effects of their strike involvement on the village community. A central platform of the NUM in 1984/85 was the defence of `jobs, pits and communities'. In order to investigate the impact of pit closures on community, the final part of my thesis consists of a subsidiary study of Moorends, a nearby village where the pit was closed in 1957. I describe the very different experience of its population in 1984/85 and analyse the nature of social relationships in the Strike's aftermath. I conclude by suggesting that the 1984/85 Miners' strike illustrates the potential of collective struggle for creating `community' among working class people on a variety of levels

Topics: DA, HM
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2699

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