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Beyond the Dockyards: Changing Narratives of Industrial Occupational Cultures in Medway

Pleasant, Emma (2019) Beyond the Dockyards: Changing Narratives of Industrial Occupational Cultures in Medway. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.

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Abstract

In 1984, Chatham Dockyard in the Medway Towns closed, displacing over 7,000 local workers. Industrial workplaces like the Dockyard, were sheltered spaces for generations of the working-class where they could perform their inherited classed and gendered identities within a sphere that legitimised and encouraged them. When industries closed, the opportunities to develop a craft-based identity lessened. Working class communities, identities and cultures are systematically 'devalued' in normative discourses (Skeggs, 1997; 2004; 2011 Sayer, 2005; Lawler, 2005). In response, working-class people will revalue the spheres that exclude them and forge their own cultural spaces where their identities and norms are 'valued'. One of the many places where this process occurs is in the workplace. In this thesis I explore how deindustrialisation dismantled workplaces like Chatham Dockyard which were protective spaces for working-class 'value' to be reproduced. Based upon forty six oral history interviews with former workers of Chatham Dockyard and their counterparts undertaking industrial apprenticeships post-closure, this thesis examines the shift in discourses of 'value' altered by deindustrialisation. Predominantly, how these discourses are created, shared and changed in apprenticeships. I show how industrial learning once taught workers the boundaries of respectability in the workplace, and how inherited classed and gendered identities were nurtured as

apprentices were moulded into working-class, male craft workers. Today, young people undertaking industrial apprenticeships face a more liminal landscape to their learning marked by precariarity and the devaluation of the cultural identity once legitimised through now lost forms of work. I argue that the transformation of apprenticeships in these circumstances enables us to see the manifestation of the 'half-life' of deindustrialisation; the connecting thread and gradual changes that mark the transformation of the industrial past into deindustrial present (Linkon, 2018). By mapping the industrial apprenticeship across pre- and post-closure, I show that industrial cultures still exist and recreate value. Therefore, workplace socialisation and apprenticeships remain important battlegrounds for what becomes 'valued' through working identities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Strangleman, Tim
Thesis advisor: Nettleingham, David
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2019 09:29 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:16 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/76209 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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