We are glad to inform our community that Ariane Mak, a member of LIM, is going to defend her thesis on the 25th of September 2018 at 14h in EHESS, Salle du Conseil A (salle BS1_28), 1er sous-sol, 54 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris.
Here some information about Ariane’s Thesis.
Miners on Strike, Miners at War.
A historical ethnography based on Mass Observation’s coal mining surveys and oral history (1939-1945)
Supervisors: Alain Cottereau (EHESS), Laura Lee Downs (EUI)
During the Second World War, coal was essential to Britain’s war effort. Yet, in 1940-1944, the coal industry accounted for almost half of all strikes. Surprisingly, industrial relations studies have given little attention to the way ‘ordinary miners’ thought about militancy in wartime. Using thickly-textured empirical studies, this thesis unveils how these strikes were experienced and legitimized by the miners. It aims to explore these strikes from below, grounded in the daily life of mining communities. It asks: how did the conflict between patriotism and social justice express itself, both in the mine and at the pub? A central focus of the thesis is on the way the war disrupted the normative worlds and moral economy of miners on strike.
A first important avenue of research is centered on Order 1305 which outlawed strikes and criminalized strikers. This thesis starts by providing a detailed analysis of the ways Order 1305 was used and of the difficulties encountered by the ministries in prosecuting strikers. Using a little-known Mass Observation survey, it then provides a reassessment of the January 1942 strike at Betteshanger Colliery, Kent, which has come to symbolize the failure of Order 1305. It then turns to another untapped source: that of the protest letters sent to the Ministry of Labour and the Home Office in the aftermath of the Betteshanger miners’ trial.
This thesis then examines how the cry for fair wages became a burning issue for miners in wartime. It highlights the important role played by changing status and gender hierarchies in these claims. In this section, the thesis first turns to the 1942 strikes and to the South Wales pit boys’ strikes. It then pays particular attention to the comparisons made by striking miners with the munitions workers’ high wages. A new perspective on this issue is provided by the survey undertaken by Mass Observation in Blaina and Nantyglo, two Welsh mining towns where miners and munitions workers were close neighbours. They reveal how, within the mining communities, these claims for “fair wages” were connected to issues of consumption, morality, gender, and respectability. Finally, the thesis argues for the need to include Bevin Boys into our understanding of the 1944 Porter Award Strikes.
This thesis offers a “historical ethnography”, combining the following features: first, an analysis of Mass Observation mining surveys; second, a study of the research design and methods of these wartime surveys; third, 43 oral history interviews conducted with miners and Bevin Boys in the very mining communities studied by Mass Observation. In that sense, this thesis also contributes to the history of Mass Observation (1937-1949), which still constitutes a neglected episode in the history of British social sciences.