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The longer-term labour market and community impacts of deindustrialisation: a comparison of the Northumberland coalfield and the Monongahela Valley mill towns

Sissons, P.; (2009) The longer-term labour market and community impacts of deindustrialisation: a comparison of the Northumberland coalfield and the Monongahela Valley mill towns. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The research focuses on the longer-term impacts of past regional deindustrialisation and, more specifically, the ways in which individual and household decisions have interacted with the local public welfare and cultural context to produce profound long-term community changes, critically affecting future generations of workers. It compares the reasons for, and impacts of, these adjustments in two study areas; the Northumberland coalfield in Northeast England, and the Monongahela Valley steel towns of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Very different patterns of initial responses to job losses were observed between the two areas. These may be characterised as a distinction between ‘place-based’ coping mechanisms in Northumberland, where workers adopted strategies which allowed them to remain in place, and the ‘mobility-response’ in the Mon Valley, as large numbers of industrial workers migrated away to seek employment elsewhere. Individual workers decisions were influenced by several factors. Most significant were the types of alternative work available locally, and the opportunities and constraints arising from different public welfare systems, transport infrastructures and education and training systems. Prevailing local cultural attitudes, norms and values, were also crucial in informing opinions. It is found that in the longer-term there has been no self-righting of the labour market. Instead, a new, more troublesome equilibrium has been established. In Northumberland the growth in economic inactivity has created areas where worklessness has become a norm among social networks, influencing the aspirations, motivations and expectations of subsequent generations. This reflects the failure of British public welfare policy to mitigate the place-specific impacts of industrial decline. In contrast, the longer-term impacts of migration from the Mon Valley left a collapsed housing market, creating a social-demographic shift as the former working class population was been replaced by an incoming population more dependent on benefits or marginal employment. This process reflected the broader failures of American social policy.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The longer-term labour market and community impacts of deindustrialisation: a comparison of the Northumberland coalfield and the Monongahela Valley mill towns
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Geography

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