Social and cultural constructions of communities in South Yorkshire colliery settlements : the mining households of the Darfield and Wombwell district, c.1851-1900
Much of the literature relating to the history of miners has been written from a union orientated perspective. In this study a broader understanding of the lives of miners and their families is sought. Notions of community and communal belonging are central throughout the investigation. The extent of migration is considered. Clear evidence of residential clustering of migrants is uncovered. This had a significant impact upon community development within the settlements. The study acknowledges the centrality of the workplace in mining communities. Primary evidence suggests, though, that the mining workplace was not a cohesive social unit. Divisions within the workplace were as significant as those bet ween capital and labour. Longstanding, rigid divisions between grades of mining employees were uncovered which impacted upon their lives outside work. An examination of women's lives within the settlements questions the general assertion that they played an economically passive role within mining settlements. Women participated actively in the public life of the settlements through their involvement in mining disputes and other communal expressions of approbation, such as rough music. Religious and leisure activities revealed much about how individuals sought to construct their own identities and those of their settlements. Both boundaries of belonging and the triumph of custom over capitalist relations were affirmed through events such as celebrations. The study reveals the composite belonging. Individuals engaged in the annual feast nature of community a multiplicity of communities ranging from the micro-community of the family to the macro-community of the nation. The nature of individuals' communal participation was determined by factors such as their: age; gender; workplace position; and marital status. Communal belonging was fluid. Particular aspects of communal identity fluctuated in significance depending upon circumstance.