Library Dissertation Showcase

‘Which Side Are You On, Boys?’ An Investigation into Miners’ Masculinity in the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2019

This dissertation is the first study into miners’ masculinity during the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike. The study of masculinity during the strike adds a gendered element to labour history and enhances the traditionally political area of research through the analysis of miners’ experiences. The absence of miners discussing their emotions accounts for the lack of study within the field, however with the burgeoning study of women’s involvement in the strike, new inroads have been discovered allowing men’s experiences to be revealed. The history of masculinity in mining communities provides the context to the strike, illustrating the importance the miners placed on work, friendships and working-class solidarity. The strike then served to challenge these traditional conceptions of masculinity, as those who returned to work were outcast and their masculinity was subordinated. The strike reinforced the bonds of solidarity, which in turn exacerbated feelings of betrayal, when some men crossed the picket line. Changing notions of masculinity intersected with changing notions of femininity, as women became actively involved in the strike through Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC) groups. The WAPC groups reinvented the masculine domain and created their own spheres of influence through fundraising and campaigning. The women’s participation in the strike inverted gender roles as domestic chores were passed to the striking miners. The study concludes that the strike served to challenge traditional notions of masculinity and as a result new identities were formed for both men and women in the mining communities.

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