Research Themes

Welcome to the research themes section of the website.

Please follow the links to the various research theme pages:

Sociology of Work and Labour


Change and the British Working Class

Working Class Culture and Image

Changing Places

Trade Unionism Capital and Labour

Capital and the Environment

Coal Mining

Durham Villages – Ethnographic Sketches

Capital and Labour

Since 1965 I have been writing and conducting research on issues relating to the changing organisation and experience of work and the ways in which these processes,  together have impacted upon the formation of working classes and their modes of understanding and organising.  In this I have been influenced by the places where I lived and worked (mainly the UK but also the Brazil and the USA).  As such my writings have featured Merseyside, and Manchester as well as the industrial region around Bristol.  Perhaps I have been at my most productive however when considering the old coalfield region of Durham and South Wales.  I was brought up in Ebbw Vales a large coal and steel town in South Wales and spent twelve years in Durham from 1975. Those twelve years coincided with the most dramatic period of industrial change that saw three million manufacturing jobs disappear and the ending of deep coal mining in all but a few locations. It was also a time when I took forward my concern to write for a broader audience, and to involve working people and trade union organisations in discussions of these major issues. Earlier (in my involvement with the car workers on Merseyside) I had published short articles in New Society and these were widely read. The last of these came out soon after the British Leyland factory at Speke was closed down in 1981. This article summarised the account that was produced in booklet by the trade union branch at the factory and this was a development of the way  I had begun to circulate  Working Papers and reports as a means of developing discussion and providing workers with a “feed back” on the research and the time they had given to interviews and other help. These papers  were  widely circulated and often  (through discussions and workshops) helped  to take the research further. The most successful example of this strategy was Global Outpost. This research (with Terry Austrin) set out   to examine the impact of multi-national corporations employment relations in the area. It was based on discussions with workers and shop stewards and  a thousand copies of this paper were produced and distributed by the GMB trade union and some local authorities.

Most of my writing has been published in book form, most often in collaboration with friends and colleagues. Most of these (like the working papers) are now out of print and have been unavailable  for some time.


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