The Economic History Review

Material and moral resources: the 1984–5 miners’ strike in Scotland

Volume 65 Issue 1
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Pages: 256-276Authors: JIM PHILLIPS
Published online: April 13, 2011DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00594.x

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This article contributes to debates about the economic framework of industrial politics by examining aspects of the 1984-5 miners’ strike in Britain, focusing on developments in Scotland. It focuses on strike endurance and pit-level variations in strike endurance by examining the contrasting quantity and quality of the material and moral resources available to the strikers at different collieries and in different communities. Powerful local variables in building or inhibiting strike commitment included pre-strike pit-level production, industrial relations, and the impact of debates about the economics and finances of coal-getting; incomes gained for households during the strike by married women in part-time and full-time employment; expenditure saved by households in local authority housing where rents were in effect deferred by sympathetic local authorities; communal attitudes to pits, jobs, and redundancies; the character and weight of political tradition; and the cultural as well as economic role of women. By focusing on developments at community and colliery level the article challenges dominant narratives of the strike, which remain wedded to high politics, the strategy of the union leadership, changes in energy supply and policy, and public order.