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Labour and place:: trade union organisation in the British steel industry

Thompson, John (2004) Labour and place:: trade union organisation in the British steel industry. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

Regional geography was once described as the highest form of the geographer's art. The recent and far-reaching re-orientation of human geography has largely concerned a re-focus on space and place. This self-questioning has largely been focused around a recognition that an analysis of the complex interactions that take place between social, economic and cultural factors is important to augment comprehension of regional difference. Combined with this re-invigoration of place-based analyses, there has recently been growing attention paid within human geography to a perceived shortcoming in explanations of uneven regional development: the relatively limited attention that has been paid to date to the role of organised labour. This thesis proposes that the region provides a window through which the social relations of production can be explored, arguing that accounts of uneven development are deficient if they do not recognise that there is a labour geography which needs to be taken into consideration. After a comprehensive review of the varied scales of trade union action, the thesis proposes that a non-reductionist Marxist methodology is a pertinent analytical tool with which to examine the social relations of production in two regions of Britain - north east England and south Wales. Using data from in-depth interviews with union members, the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation - the largest trade union representing workers in the British steel industry - is portrayed as an active agent which has aided the evolution of two distinctive regional industrial cultures. The case of the ISTC demonstrates clearly that regional industrial culture is not something to be read directly from the strategies of capital. Instead, this thesis concludes that localised cultures of labour help shape place, but in a non-determinate fashion. If the social, economic and cultural attributes of a particular place are viewed collectively, new and innovative ways of analysing regional economies become possible.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2004
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:58

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