Trade unionism and socio-economic development in the Yorkshire glass industry, circa 1840-1940

Spencer, Terence (1988). Trade unionism and socio-economic development in the Yorkshire glass industry, circa 1840-1940. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis examines the developmental pattern of trade unionism within the Yorkshire Glass Industry in the century after 1840. The concept of labour aristocracy is utilised to provide a framework for analysis of the actions and ideology of the artisan glassmakers both at the point of production and in a wider societal context.

The thesis consists of two parts. Part, One, is a summary of the principal theories which have emerged from the controversy concerning the nature and role of the labour aristocracy and indicates areas of investigation concerning the position of the artisan glassworkers within the context of the ongoing debate. The nature of the principal sources employed together with the methodology utilised to form the overall analysis is discussed and ,a hypothesis is formulated.

Part Two of the thesis consists of the analysis of data sources to test the hypothesis. The source material is examined within the context of three chronologically based sections. Each section corresponds to a discernable phase in trade union development within the Yorkshire Glass Industry. The three chronological sections are subdivided into an uneven series of topic headings each dealing with relevant aspects of the trade and trade unionism during the period under review. The arbitrary disruption of the time continuum in order to facilitate the handling of the source material has meant that some sub-topics are common to all three chronological periods whilst others are, perhaps, applicable to one or two only.

Section one examines the years 1840 to 1880 which were years of trade union growth and the adoption and consolidation of centralised systems of union administration. The years 1880 to 1910 which form the second section were ones in which the unions under the adverse effects of trade depression, intensified competition both foreign and domestic, and the impact of technological change, suffered enforced retreat and retrenchment before experiencing a brief period of revival at the turn of the present century. The third section, 1910 - 1940, deals with the decline and demise of the craft-based unions in the face of the threat by automatic machine production processes and the adverse effects of the Great War and its economic aftermath.

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