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Title: Beyond the dockyards : changing narratives of industrial occupational cultures in Medway
Author: Pleasant, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 9634
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2019
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In 1984, Chatham Dockyard in the Medway Towns closed, displacing over 7,000 local workers. Industrial workplaces like the Dockyard, were sheltered spaces for generations of the working-class where they could perform their inherited classed and gendered identities within a sphere that legitimised and encouraged them. When industries closed, the opportunities to develop a craft-based identity lessened. Working class communities, identities and cultures are systematically 'devalued' in normative discourses (Skeggs, 1997; 2004; 2011 Sayer, 2005; Lawler, 2005). In response, working-class people will revalue the spheres that exclude them and forge their own cultural spaces where their identities and norms are 'valued'. One of the many places where this process occurs is in the workplace. In this thesis I explore how deindustrialisation dismantled workplaces like Chatham Dockyard which were protective spaces for working-class 'value' to be reproduced. Based upon forty six oral history interviews with former workers of Chatham Dockyard and their counterparts undertaking industrial apprenticeships post-closure, this thesis examines the shift in discourses of 'value' altered by deindustrialisation. Predominantly, how these discourses are created, shared and changed in apprenticeships. I show how industrial learning once taught workers the boundaries of respectability in the workplace, and how inherited classed and gendered identities were nurtured as apprentices were moulded into working-class, male craft workers. Today, young people undertaking industrial apprenticeships face a more liminal landscape to their learning marked by precariarity and the devaluation of the cultural identity once legitimised through now lost forms of work. I argue that the transformation of apprenticeships in these circumstances enables us to see the manifestation of the 'half-life' of deindustrialisation; the connecting thread and gradual changes that mark the transformation of the industrial past into deindustrial present (Linkon, 2018). By mapping the industrial apprenticeship across pre- and post-closure, I show that industrial cultures still exist and recreate value. Therefore, workplace socialisation and apprenticeships remain important battlegrounds for what becomes 'valued' through working identities.
Supervisor: Strangleman, Tim ; Nettleingham, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available