Sociology

This chapter presents a cartography of internal power dynamics within the intimate space of squatted houses. Squatted houses comprise the fundamental basis of the structure of the squatters movement in Amsterdam. Communal living groups within squatted households both reflect and refract larger movement dynamics of hierarchy and authority. They reflect larger movement standards in the sense that one’s squatter capital contributes to one’s status position within a squatted household. They refract in that within a household, the highest values are to maintain a lively and peaceful group dynamic, silently maintain the unspoken hierarchies within a group without challenging them, and avoid tension and conflict

in The autonomous life?
Open Access (free)

This chapter introduces a number of classifications and theoretical concepts. It presents a matrix of the types of skills and the style of the identity-making performances necessary to enable one to inhabit the ideal of the authentic squatter. Squatter capital, that is, specific skills and the differential prestige that one gains by excelling in such skills, describes the unspoken value system of the internal social world of the squatters' movement. Furthermore, to achieve a sense of authenticity, one must demonstrate that one has mastered and rejected tastes and values, both mainstream and those associated with the radical left; as well as performing an inculcated middle class value orientation to render invisible and natural a long, arduous and self-conscious processes of socialization and skill acquisition.

in The autonomous life?
The launch of the Durham Forward Movement and the syndicalists’ high tide?

This chapter analyses the first year of a more concretely organised rank-and-file movement that emerged from the earlier minimum wage campaign; the Durham Forward Movement (DFM). It starts by delineating the DFM’s aims to improve the minimum wage award, reduce its restrictive rules and bring in those grades of miners not already included in the minimum wage. It locates these developments in the mood of continuing unrest in the coalfield, and manifest at the DMA’s annual summer gala where syndicalist leader Tom Mann was among the four invited speakers. In this context the advances of the syndicalists are then considered, especially in autumn 1912 when Will Lawther returned from Central Labour College London and brought new vigour and energy to Durham’s syndicalist challenge. In early 1913, the DFM became involved in agitation against efforts by the doctors to maintain an elevated fee structure for their miner patients, after the National Insurance Act came into effect. The chapter ends by considering the DFM’s record in its first year of life, arguing that although its tangible achievements were slight, the syndicalists still needed to find a way to constructively engage with this mass movement.

in The Great Labour Unrest
Abstract only

The conclusion ties together the main elements of the argument. The DFM, though comparatively unsuccessful in material terms, proved a highly effective vehicle in propelling a grouping of generally younger ILP activists to the top positions inside the DMA: in 1915, two of the main DFM leaders were elected to replace the now deceased Liberal general secretary. While the ideological struggle within the union was not over, this was the decisive moment, and everything was in place before war broke out. The DMA was now, thanks to the DFM, committed to exclusive support for the Labour Party and its prestige, influence and resources were being brought to bear before August 1914. For the next twenty years, all the main DMA officials and many Durham Labour parliamentary candidates and MPs, had been active in the pre-war rank-and-file movements. The DFM had also developed a simple but brilliant strategy to secure miners’ support for Labour candidates at elections using the minimum wage. And, by deploying a militant class-based rhetoric, and advocating many syndicalist aims, the DFM had negated the revolutionaries' challenge. The conclusion ends by arguing for the continued importance of focussed case studies to throw light on complex grassroots processes.

in The Great Labour Unrest

This chapter discusses the strife provoked in the coalfield by the DMA leaders’ signing of the Eight Hours Agreement, to enact the requirements of the Eight Hours Act. The Agreement allowed the owners to extend the ‘drawing time’ of coal and implement the highly unpopular three-shift system. Even more controversially, the miners’ leaders had given their members no direct say in negotiations over the Agreement. The result was mass unofficial strikes and protests against the Agreement and DMA leaders. The last of these strikes did not end until April 1910, and, while the essentially Liberal union leaders survived (narrowly) a vote of confidence, they were weakened and partially discredited.. But, as a long-standing advocate of the eight-hour day, the ILP suffered too; its leading militants were muted or confused by the situation. As importantly, the crisis broke apart the ILP-fostered radical lodge alliance that had been coalescing since around 1900, as some of the larger more modern collieries already operated three-shift systems and were not moved by the controversy. Fortunately for the ILP, this fracturing was only partial and remediable and Durham syndicalists, who stood to gain in the strife and confusion, were insufficiently established to take effective advantage.

in The Great Labour Unrest
Rank-and-file movements and political change in the Durham coalfield

This book analyses the ideological battle for control of the prestigious, influential and important ––regionally and nationally– Durham Miners’ Association in the fascinating "Great Labour Unrest" period before the outbreak of the Great War. In assessing the complex relations between structure and agency it recognises that the socialists of the ILP before 1910 made some progress in a particularly hostile environment, thanks to the dominance of liberal paternalism and Methodism. But the miners’ eight hour day, a socialist demand brought into effect by the Liberal government, caused tremendous strife in a coalfield, especially with the imposition of a three-shift working system that it entailed. The emergence of syndicalist activists in the coalfield, largely rejecting mainstream ‘political’ action for industrial agitation and revolutionary trade unions also threatened the ILP from the left. With the emergence of a new generation of younger, more radical and often well-schooled ILP activists after 1911, the ILP was able to harness the anger over the three-shift system to the renewed demand for a minimum wage. In doing so, these ILP activists created a mass coalfield rank-and-file movement that, after the minimum wage was won, sought to extend the struggle more firmly onto the ‘political’ plane. In deploying a militant, aggressive and class-based rhetoric they managed to outflank the syndicalist challenge and win over growing numbers of Durham miners to their cause. By 1914, these young ILP activists were beginning to reap the rewards of their labours, having forged tremendous progress since 1911.

This chapter introduces the main areas of historiographical debate. After a brief general outline of the period it goes on to analyse the literature on the “Great Labour Unrest” and syndicalism and then the debates around the rise of Labour. A fourth section examines the specific mining literature and develops the book’s rationale, arguing for the significance of the Durham coalfield both in terms of the miners’ union’s size and influence on the national stage and also that it represents a particularly important ‘extreme’ case study that saw apparently rapid political change in an especially hostile environment. The fifth part delineates a set of approaches the book applies that are drawn from the preceding debates, while the final section briefly outlines the main contours of the book’s argument.

in The Great Labour Unrest
The minimum wage campaign

This chapter considers the re-emergence of the demand for a miners’ minimum wage and the origins and activities of a growing rank-and-file movement in the Durham coalfield advocating it. It begins by examining the context of summer 1911 and the influence of South Wales syndicalist miners in bringing their call for a minimum wage to Durham and how a new cohort of younger ILP activist miners, led by figures like Ruskin-educated Jack Lawson, enthusiastically took up the cudgels, creating around themselves a mass and active movement based on educating and agitating. The minimum wage campaign was initially allied with demands to revoke the Eight Hours Agreement but the latter remained divisive and was gradually sidelined by ILP activists. The chapter then offers a new, more nuanced interpretation of the actual votes in Durham to strike for the minimum wage and then to stay out on strike for a better settlement in 1912, depicting them in a more positive light than earlier accounts. Finally, it details the initial minimum wage award in Durham, which, with a lengthy set of strict and onerous rules attached to an ungenerous (for most grades of miner) award provoked renewed outrage among many miners.

in The Great Labour Unrest

This chapter provides the crucial contextual background to understanding the more detailed narrative from 1910 developed in subsequent chapters. It begins by examining the economic contexts; the highly diverse coal mining workforce in Durham, and the extensive and complex wage bargaining machinery that had developed there. Secondly, considers these contexts in terms of obstacles to the advancement of socialist ideas such as Methodism and the paternalism and individualism it fostered among miners and their leaders. A third section analyses the potentialities for socialists latent in the changing context, such as the altering nature of the county’s coal industry. The final two parts examine the agents, essentially socialists of the ILP and their various attempts to undermine the liberal economic and political hegemony in the coalfield up to 1910. The chapter argues that although ILP activists had made significant efforts between the late 1890s and 1910, they remained some distance from winning over sufficient numbers of ordinary miners to be able to achieve their goal, taking control of the entrenched and influential institution of the DMA and using it to exert further influence on miners.

in The Great Labour Unrest
Defeats, victories and new strategies

This chapter examines the developing challenge of the DFM and syndicalists in the year before the outbreak of war. Unprecedented coal production and high prices rendered summer 1913 more tranquil. When the DMA leadership launched a series of meetings over grievances the DFM had championed, the movement had to justify itself. In this context Romer’s second minimum wage award in October 1913 –even less generous that the first– was a gift, as it sparked more mass protests. The syndicalists played a part but, though consolidating local bases of support and influence, they remained largely peripheral to the mass movement. The chapter assesses why this was, and considers how the agency of syndicalists in some respects exacerbated their problems. It then turns to problems the DFM faced in effecting an industrial solution to miners’ grievances and its successes on the political plane; in democratising the DMA and securing its institutional commitment to the Labour Party. The concluding sections consider the movement’s culpability in two weak Labour by-election performances in the county before August 1914, arguing that the DFM’s new electoral strategy based around the minimum wage offered a powerful means to exercise influence in a 1915 general election that never came.

in The Great Labour Unrest