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Privatisation and the politics of hegemony: A study of the attitudes of striking NHS ancillary workers towards privatisation, 1984-1985

Higgs, Paul (1987) Privatisation and the politics of hegemony: A study of the attitudes of striking NHS ancillary workers towards privatisation, 1984-1985. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94416) (KAR id:94416)


This work is concerned with examining the nature of political consciousness from a Marxist perspective. It is also concerned with the direction and theoretical underpinnings of trade union opposition to privatisation in the NHS. These two areas are connected by virtue of the fact that certain views about the nature of political consciousness are implicit in the different strategies advocated to combat privatisation. Consequently, the adoption by the trade unions of methods relying heavily on the role of ’public opinion’ to defeat the introduction of privatisation is a rejection, at least to some degree, of traditional forms of industrial action and of the politics associated with it. These see such activities as central to the creation of working class political consciousness. In this way, the form of the opposition of the trade unions to privatisation connects with the current theoretical positions of thinkers who have been influenced by post-structuralism and Euro-communism, and for whom the important political questions are ones such as the ideological hegemony of ’Thatcherism’ and the possibility (or otherwise) of creating a ’universalising discourse’. This work seeks to challenge these ideas in two ways. Firstly, it tests out their validity by examining the attitudes of workers who have taken industrial action against privatisation in the NHS. This group should show the most consistent support for the welfare state if this strategy is correct. Secondly, it seeks to challenge the theoretical underpinnings to what I have termed ’counter-hegemonic struggle’. It looks at, and creates critiques of, the work of Hobsbawm; Hall; and the post-structuralists and Althusserians. The work concludes this overview of theories of political consciousness and ideology by advocating a model of political struggle based on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci and which avoids the idealism of the various contemporary Marxist accounts of ideology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Taylor-Gooby, Peter
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94416
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 25 April 2022 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: NHS, privatisation, political consciousness, trade unions, industrial action
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Utopias. Anarchism
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 09 May 2023 10:32 UTC
Last Modified: 09 May 2023 10:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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