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Title: Working-class responses to unemployment on Merseyside, c.1978-1998 : a Thompsonian analysis
Author: Marren, Brian Dennis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 695X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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The last quarter of the twentieth century brought forth enormous changes to working- class Britons in the form of widespread industrial closure and escalating unemployment in the manufacturing industry. No British city bore closer witness to these phenomena than Liverpool. The spectre of rising joblessness was arguably the most pervasive facet affecting both the economy and society of Liverpool in the two decades after 1978. Consequently, the despair of job loss and economic deprivation blighted Merseyside to a significantly greater extent than any other major British conurbation. The central concern of this thesis is to analyse the range and depth of responses by Liverpool's working class to the onslaught of compulsory redundancies and factory closures on Merseyside in the age of Thatcher. This city of Liverpool and the surrounding Merseyside region had frequently been prone to industrial unrest since 1945, but it was the dawn ofThatcherism and the rise of neo-liberal economic tendencies that made Liverpool a nucleus of resistance and, at times, a lone voice of protest against the encroaching tide of right-wing politics and sweeping deindustrialisation. This thesis explores six case studies that examine how both residents and workers on Merseyside fought against a rapid rise in redundancies and industrial closure. Drawing on the approach of the eminent labour historian E. P. Thompson, this dissertation seeks to particularly emphasise the social agency exercised by these workers in the series of struggles analysed in the following chapters. Some of their responses to expanding job loss and industrial closure included strikes, factory occupations, the organisation of the unemployed, embracement of radical left-wing municipal politics and serious civil unrest. This thesis concludes that in the range, intensity and use of innovative tactics deployed during these conflicts, Liverpool was distinctive. An important theme running through the case studies analysed was that the working class of Liverpool drew upon and reinvigorated a unique local labour culture which prized opposition and the defence of workers' rights. This dissertation demonstrates that the focus and wide variety of industrial protest exuded by the working class of Liverpool during the Thatcher years was largely due to the long historical relationship the city's workers had with poverty, alienation, sectarianism, and most importantly, unemployment. Therefore, the findings of this study offer new insights into the active resistances undertaken by workers during the 'un-making' of the British working class in the last decades of the twentieth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available