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Accommodating the miners: a comparative study of industrial relations and community involvement in some South Yorkshire coalmining townships, 1855-1894

By Patrick John Spaven


This thesis is a social history of coalminers in an area\ud which comprised the greater part of the developed South\ud Yorkshire coalfield by the end of. the period under study,\ud 1855-1894. Mining did not become the dominant industry in\ud this area until the 1850s and the influx of men and capital\ud was superimposed on a network of communities, many\ud economically and politically advanced.\ud Industrial relations were shaped by the ease with which the\ud union and its institutionalisation of collective bargaining\ud took root in these open, mobile, communities, in the absence\ud of a large residential coalowning class. This generalisation,\ud however, masks some important contrasts. One or two powerful\ud landed coal proprietors did exist and maintained effective\ud paternalistic regimes which were not conducive to unionism.\ud Other coalowners, mostly absentee, invoked the anger of their\ud employees by attempting less enlightened forms of control or\ud by their inability or unwillingness to conform to. district\ud norms in pay and other'aspects of industrial practice.\ud Outside the pits, the miners in this district tended to enjoy a freedom from constraints, imposed elsewhere by a monolithic employer class. Political and institutional power in the moreindustrialised townships rested primarily in the hands of a Liberal industrial, professional and tradesman class which included few coalowners and had everything to gain by accommodating the miners, or at least their leaders. This accommodation became effective during the early.\ud 1870s and laid the foundation for a lasting 'Lib-Lab alliance in local and parliamentary politics.\ud Social relations in these communities were, however, complex\ud and at times fragmentary. The concern of this study is as\ud much with what caused divisions within the communities, as\ud with what held their constituent groups together

Topics: HD, DA
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