Structures, relationships and attitudes: coalmining family life in the Black Country during the second half of the Nineteenth Century
AbstractThe aim of this Thesis is to describe and to analyse the structure of coalminer families and households in two woricing-class communities at two points in time in the second half of the nineteenth century. The methodology used is essentially that of comparison of coalminer households across time to look for elements of change and continuity, and comparison with the worldng-class generally with whom the coalminers lived to look for similarities and differences. The critical review of the historiography presented in Chapter One shows that a certain mythology surrounds most aspects of coalmining as an occupation. Because of the special nature of coalmining as a job, coalminers developed a set of bchavioural. attitudes which dominated all aspects of their life, including marriage, the establishment of a home, the formation of families, the level of marital fertility, and the degree to which they shared their homes with co-residents. Some of these aspects of the historiography will be challenged in this Thesis. Much of the mythology surrounding coalminers originated from those communities in which they were coterminous with the population and in which they had little contact with the outside world and therefore were little influenced by other bchavioural, attitudes and values. This isolated existence was not, however, the socio-cconomic context in which many coalminers lived and worked. In the Black Country, they lived in communities which they shared with the rest of the working class generally, and the size and importance of the coalminers as an occupational group varied in each community. This Thesis will describe and analyse the socio-economic structure of two Black Country communities which contained significantly different proportions of coalminers among the working-class population generally. The analysis of the coalminer population in these two communities is presented in three Chapters which waimine in turn the age and gender structure, the composition of the family and the household, and the extent and nature of co-residencc within the coalmincr household. In Lower Gornal where the coalminers were a substantial proportion of the population, they displayed in 1851 significant differences in their family and household structures to the rest of the working class population. These differences were, to a large extent, disappearing by 1891. In Cradley, however, where the coalminers were just one occupational group amongst many, in both 1851 and 1891, they shared the same family and household structure as the rest of the working class. In Chapters Six and Seven some of the reasons for the differences and similarities in household structure, between the coalminers and the rest of the working class, are explored and some broad conclusions are drawn about coalminer demography.
CitationRidgway, J.P. (1996). Structures, relationships and attitudes: coalmining family life in the Black Country during the second half of the Nineteenth Century. University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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