Economic and social changes in the 1980's : a study of the effects of redundancy on a group of South Yorkshire steelworkers and their families
The research described in this thesis is an attempt to understand the changing nature of redundancy, chequered working lives and unemployment in modern Britain. It focuses in particular on the ways in which a specific group of industrial workers and their families have perceived, mediated and reacted to the upheavals redundancy has caused in their lives. Section I deals with the history of the research; the problems associated with qualitative work and argues the case for a critical neo- Veberian methodology, as opposed to a general reliance on neo-Marxist perspectives in sociology. Section II examines economic and social change in contemporary Britain, paying particular attention to the recent histories of B. S. C. and South Yorkshire. Section III analyses the various effects of redundancy and unemployment on the nation, the local area, the family and the individual and those factors which can assist in pro-active responses to job loss. Some suggestions for the development of a social-psychology of redundancy et alia are made. The main findings deal with the experiences of these families, which are discussed within a life course perspective and include an examination of the many variables which can influence people's behaviour in these situations such as: class; age; occupation; gender; and political and religious consciousness. Family level variables are critically important, in particular the differing degrees of equality within particular marriages and households. The final section makes a conscious effort to link together the 'public issues' and 'private troubles' of redundancy et; alia. These are qualitatively different from those of earlier periods in the Twentieth Century and provide a challenge to sociologists and policy makers, who have not come to terms with their impact. This research indicates that neo-Marxism cannot adequately explain these phenomena. Some suggestions are made for a Critical Humanism, drawing on the best of sociology's diverse images of the social world, as a means of understanding the macro and micro-social realities of redundancy, chequered working lives and unemployment in the 1930's.