The miners’ strike of 1984/5 in the UK remains a defining event in contemporary social and political history. Animosity between the Nottinghamshire breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers, and those loyal to the National Union of Mineworkers remains evident thirty years later (Paterson 2015). It has contemporary resonance because the experience of the strike – and particularly the sense of betrayal amongst Nottinghamshire miners following the pit closures in the 1990s – is widely credited with having impacted the high “leave” vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum (Guardian 2017).
This research will focus on the role of Nottinghamshire women during the dispute as mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends (WAGs), amongst others, of those on strike. These women were affected by the economic hardship involved and the emotional toll of diverging from the NUM orthodoxy. This study seeks to establish their experiences and to what extent they had agency in the making of these decisions, which affected their lives.
It fills a gap in the literature, for whilst the history of the Nottinghamshire miners’ role in the strike has been addressed by Paterson (2015), the miners’ point of view by Griffin (2005) and the discourse of the overall strike by Hart (2017), the specific discourse of the women involved has not been addressed. Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Thomlinson (2018), have touched on women’s activism at this time overall, but not the specific experience of Nottinghamshire women.
The research aim therefore is to examine how involved women were in the decision-making process. It will also address issues such as how they saw their role as “women” in that process addressing questions such as:
- Did women lack agency?
- Were women obliged to go along with the male voice?
- What did they think about this?
In this way the project will analyse the identity of the Nottinghamshire wives from a feminist perspective and how they dealt with the circumstances of the strike and crossing the picket line. It will be an empirical project using a feminist theoretical framework and it is expected it would be approached qualitatively, although other methodologies would be considered.
NB: Derbyshire stayed in the NUM and therefore remained on strike once the Nottinghamshire men had returned to work causing ongoing animosity in villages just a few miles apart. It would be possible to incorporate Derbyshire women into the study (although not essential).
A secondary aim is to feed findings back into the local communities by creating opportunities for involvement. The candidate would work with the supervisory team to stage a poetry/short story/art competition about men and women’s experiences of the strike in collaboration with local organisations such the Nottingham Evening Post, Radio Nottingham, Notts Contemporary Art Gallery and the Bromley House library. It is also proposed to make a digital oral archive of the research interviews to run alongside an analogue exhibition of competition entries. These events would benefit the wider Nottinghamshire mining community and act as an outlet for the continuing emotional overhang of the strike and subsequent pit closures in the 1990s.
Based on this broad framework, we invite you to submit a research proposal of 1000-2000 words - including the reference list and endnotes/footnotes - covering the following points:
- Aims and objectives – inc. research question(s)
- Outline of feminist theoretical approach.
NB: This studentship is funded by a donation from the family of Dr Ros Hague, a member of NTU staff who died in November 2017. Ros was a feminist scholar and for this reason, the theoretical approach must be feminist, broadly defined.
Proposed data collection strategy – including consideration of access issues with respect to participants and how these will be addressed;
- Proposed method of data analysis
- Any ethical and/or health and safety issues that may emerge from the project (and how these will be addressed).
- Preliminary outline of how the impact activities outlined could be realised.
- A provisional timeline for the research and impact
Griffin, Colin (2005) “Notts. have some very peculiar history’: Understanding the Reaction of the Nottinghamshire Miners to the 1984-85 Strike”, Historical Studies in Industrial Relations. 19, pp. 63-99.
The Guardian (2017) Mansfield: Once the site of miners’ strike clashes becomes top Tory target. April 22.
Hart, C. (2017) “Metaphor and intertextuality in media framings of the (1984–1985) British Miners’ Strike: A multimodal analysis”, Communication and Discourse. 11 (1) pp.3-30.
Paterson, H. (2015) Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire Thirty Years On. Nottingham, Five Leaves Bookshop.
Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, F., & Thomlinson, N. (2018). National women against pit closures: Gender, trade unionism and community activism in the miners’ strike, 1984–5. Contemporary British History, 32(1), 78-100.
Entrants must have a first/undergraduate Honours degree, with an Upper Second Class or a First Class grade, in Politics, Sociology, History or a related subject. Entrants with a Lower Second Class grade at first degree must also have a postgraduate Masters Degree at Merit or Commendation.
How to apply
How to apply
Applications close at 11:59 pm (UK time) on Friday 28 June 2019.
Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.
Interviews will take place between 15-19 July 2019.
Fees and funding
This PhD will be funded from a stipend donated by the family of Dr Ros Hague, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at NTU who died suddenly in November 2017, age 42.
We regret that we are not able to fund international students. Only Home/EU are eligible to apply.
In addition to a fees scholarship, students may also be eligible for living costs at the standard UKRI rate. The final decision about stipend funding will be taken at the selection stage and cannot be guaranteed at this point.
Guidance and support
Further information on guidance and support can be found on this page.