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A comparative study of community and militancy in two coalmining settlements in Britain

Park, Adrian (1999) A comparative study of community and militancy in two coalmining settlements in Britain. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86166) (KAR id:86166)


Miners' militancy and close-knit community have become synonymous terms in many people's minds. Miners displayed solidaristic tendencies above ground in their union activities as a mirror image of their relationships below ground. The toughness of their job translated into toughness in their political and industrial attitudes. Living in traditionally isolated communities miners could rely only upon each other for support and understanding. The women living precarious existences in these settlements were likewise. Children were socialised into their respective male/female, dominant/submissive roles. Such was the reputation of coalminers - the vanguard of the labour movement. It permeated media images and informed the general public's opinion of miners, their womenfolk and their communities. Miners themselves fell victim to their own mythologising. The literature on the subject, fictional and non-fictional, has often been semi-hagiographic, adding to the myth. Recent historiography, however, has done much to deconstruct this, largely sentimental, notion of miners and their communities. Close examination of miners' history shows a tradition of splits and rivalries rather than solidarity - federalism rather than national unity. Isolated mass and occupational community have been shown to be concepts applicable to some coalmining settlements, not all. As an attempt at universality they fall far short. Indeed, the whole ideal of community has been so seriously questioned as a useful or workable construct that it remains stuck at the level of abstract. That, however, has not stopped the term being increasingly used and abused by politicians, sociologists, historians and journalists. We are all communitarians now. The 1984-85 miners' strike served to inform traditional and radical opinion of the nature of miners and their militant, solidaristic tendencies. Miners on strike for a whole year, supported by their communities was the traditional image. Milers who worked and crossed picket lines was the radical. Historically aware observers understood, however, that what was radical was in fact traditional and that the solidarity displayed by striking miners throughout twelve months was a radical break with the past. Ivfilitancy/moderacy levels and the nature of community maybe linked, but generalisations about specific miners and their penchant for industrial action are inappropriate. All miners are capable of extreme militancy and moderacy. Individual areas must be examined in the context of their whole history rather than that of specific events. And as more case studies, written from a national as well as regional viewpoint, are added to the historiography of mining, the whole picture of miners, their communities and their (un)willingness to take industrial action starts to become complete. With the rundown of the mining industry virtually completed, writing about miners and their lives has an air of finality - a genuine sense of history rather than journalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Lovell, John C.
Thesis advisor: Delecroix, Michel
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86166
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Solidarity; Unity; Strikes
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:31 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 18:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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