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Durham miners and unionism, 1831 - 1926: a sociological interpretation

Webster, Frank (1974) Durham miners and unionism, 1831 - 1926: a sociological interpretation. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis offers an explanation of why the Durham miners, while taking part frequently in bitter industrial clashes with their employers never moved as a body to attack the system of British capitalism as a whole. It is argued that the experience of the pitmen constitutes a particular case of what has been called the ‘dialectics of incorporation' of the working class under a system of bourgeois hegemony. The thesis opens with a consideration of three new beliefs about the Durham miners. It is suggested that these beliefs are in fact myths which in both revealing and concealing the real situation embodied certain important paradoxes. These paradoxes centred on a sort of ambivalence, an important degree of tension within the miners’ organisation, which was a hall-mark of the pitmen’s' industrial and political activity between 1831 - 1926 and which resulted in the definitive oscillations between dissent and consensus which are to be observed both within the miners' fraternities and in the pattern of their involvement in the nexus of labour and capital. The study is necessarily limited in scope and I have chosen to cover fully one particular, rather underused, primary source - the records of the Durham Miners' Association - over a long period of time rather than to range widely over numerous sources but in a narrowly restricted tame span. Either procedure has its disadvantages and neither could claim to achieve a definitive analysis of the Durham miners' involvement in the wider social, economic and political system. For the purposes of advancing the interpretation presented here it seemed right to attempt coverage of a long period of historical development even at the cost of depth of research. It will be appreciated that the conditions covering the presentation of an M.A. dissertation would in any case have made a definitive history impossible.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:37

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