Out in the trade : the occupational community of Birmingham's jewellery quarter
The Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham has its base in small interdependent workshop craft production in a long-established location for which the concept of occupational community appeared an appropriate research tool. The ahistorical approach of studies of occupational communities is critically addressed and it is argued that the theory of occupational community can be deployed historically to investigate the particular conditions of the Jewellery Quarter and explain the construction of these over time. The origins of the industry in Birmingham are investigated in detail and the patterns of localisation together with the structure and organisation of the industry in the nineteenth century are analysed. The establishment of the local formal institutions which developed to support the industry is traced. An account is given of redevelopment, refurbishment, and recession in the post-war era. The current location of firms in the area is analysed, together with the organisation of work in the local industry. The occupational community of the Jewellery Quarter is described and analysed. The nature of interdependence, the daily interaction and the role of family are explained. The concept of work-in-leisure is discussed in relation to the Jewellery Quarter. The formal methods of recruitment to the local industry are reviewed against the needs of the local industry, and it is shown how the community itself acts as an informal channel of recruitment. The ambiguities surrounding women's employment in the industry are explored. While women are still concentrated in low-paid, low skilled work, it is argued that historically they have also been present as owners and craftswomen, and the factors which enable this are analysed. The methodology used in the study is detailed and the link between the methodology and concept of occupational community is discussed. In this study the broad use of the theory of occupational community has shown how the historical pattern continues to influence the community. Finally it is argued that the study contributes to the current debate on small firm survival and persistence.