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Deindustrialisation on the margins: Remembering working lives and the long closure of Dover Mill

Cook, Paul (2023) Deindustrialisation on the margins: Remembering working lives and the long closure of Dover Mill. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.103285) (KAR id:103285)


In June 2000, Buckland Paper Mill closed its doors after more than two centuries of papermaking in Dover, Kent. Buckland Mill represents an atypical case study of industrial work and factory closure that offers insight into the distinctiveness of twentieth-century industriaemployment and the continued significance of its decline. Located in the 'Garden of England,' far from the 'heartlands' of traditional industry, and closing relatively late in the UK's process of industrial decline, the mill is spatially and temporally removed from examples of factory closure generally presented in studies of deindustrialisation. The nature of the work and composition of the workforce are also marginal in existing research: papermaking jobs performed by men and women in roughly equal measure, albeit in the context of a rigid sexual division of labour. All of this allows for an exploration of how time and place inform processes of industrial work and closure, while inviting a sustained analysis of gender and women's work that has been largely missing from the literature to date. Oral history interviews with former mill workers are employed to tap into accounts of working life and industrial closure. Archival and documentary materials complement and complicate oral testimonies while providing additional texture to the narrative(s). The research sits within the oral history tradition of understanding memory not a repository of historical facts but as an active process of sensemaking shaped by conditions over time. In this thesis, I explore how a strong sense of stability and permanence at Dover Mill provided the foundation for an occupational community that blurred the distinction between work and non-work lives. I further explore everyday working lives at the mill to understand what it meant to work in a range of roles, arguing that the identities and meanings derived from mill work were thoroughly shaped by gender as well as degree of skill and autonomy. Finally, I explore the closure of Dover Mill, which I argue had its roots in a restructuring of the workplace from the 1980s that was met with little worker resistance, and which saw women most vulnerable to job loss.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lyon, Dawn
Thesis advisor: Bradley, Kate
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.103285
Uncontrolled keywords: sociology; deindustrialisation; work; employment; community; gender; women; memory; oral history; social history; skill; craft; identity; marginality
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2023 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2023 14:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Cook, Paul.

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