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The Changing Face of the Working Class

Core ‘reading’ for this week includes watching at least one of the below films/TV programmes. This is in addition to the two specified core readings.

When watching, you must take notes on the following questions (see further seminar questions below):

  1. What kinds of people are being depicted as ‘the working class’?
  2. How is the working class depicted? Does the narrative of the films/TV resonate with or challenge some of the historical narratives about the working class that you have encountered?
  3. When is the film/TV made? Who made it? Who watched it? Where? Why do you think the film, TV, was made when it was? How does it bear the imprint of its own time?


Questions to prepare for seminar:

  • What accounts for the level of strikes in the 1970s?
  • What was the wider significance of the defeat of the miners in 1985?
  • Did the identity of the working class change between 1950 and 1980? If so, how?

 Core Reading:

  • Diarmaid Kelliher, ‘Solidarity and Sexuality: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’, History Workshop Journal , 77:1 (2014), 240-62.
  • Jack McGowan ‘Dispute’, ‘Battle’, ‘Siege’, ‘Farce’?—Grunwick 30 Years On’, Contemporary British History, 22:3 (2008), 383-406.

Further Reading:

  • Jon Lawrence and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, ‘Margaret Thatcher and the Decline of Class Politics’ in Ben Jackson and Robert Saunders, Making Thatcher’s Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 132-47.
  • Ben Jones, ‘The Uses of Nostalgia: Autobiography, Community Publishing, and Working-Class Neighbourhoods in Postwar England’, Cultural and Social History, 7 (2010), 355-74.
  • Jon Lawrence, ‘The British Sense of Class’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35 (2000), 307-18.
  • Mike Savage, ‘Working-Class Identities in the 1960s. Rewriting the Affluent Worker Study’, Sociology, 39 (5), 429-46.
  • Richard Whiting, ‘Affluence and Industrial Relations in Post-War Britain’, Contemporary British History, 22, 4 (2008), 519-36.
  • Jean Spence and Carol Stephenson, ‘Pies and Essays: Women Writing Through the 1984-1985 Miners Strike’, Gender, Place and Culture 20:2 (March 2013), 218-235.
  • Hugh Pemberton, ‘The Winter of Discontent 30 Years On’, Political Quarterly, 80 (2009), 553-61.
  • Eric Hobsbawm, ‘The Forward March of Labour Halted?’, Marxism Today, September 1978, 279-286 [those of you who did Making History will already have read this. If you didn’t read it first time round read it now!]