A coal mining community in late nineteenth-century Shropshire: frontier settlement or close-knit community?
AbstractThe first aim of this thesis was to examine one community, Madeley, in 1891, in relation to two apparently contradictory stereotypes of late nineteenth-century mining communities, as either close-knit, or as loose-knit. The second aim was to develop a methodology to examine precisely the social characteristics of a late nineteenth-century community as a local social system. An interdisciplinary approach was adopted, adapting social network analysis to a historical context. The research attempted to place equal value upon the experience of all members of the community, including the potentially marginalised, tracing individuals' social networks. The analysis focused upon persistence and kinship as key variables, before turning to both 'formal' and 'informal' social networks. A model was developed within which the composition, structure and content of networks could be analysed precisely, and the intensity of social activity assessed. The thesis has shown that there was a high level of persistence within the area, but also a high level of mobility internally, with significant variations by occupation and age. There was a high level of potential support from kin, and evidence of strong support from older kin, but also of marginalisation, often of women. Associational life was not central to most individuals' networks, but they had the greatest social impact through the events that were the most inclusive. It has been shown that friendly societies may have been socially much more significant in late nineteenthcentury mining communities that has hitherto been recognised, and that places of worship were a potential source of social division. Whilst there is some evidence of lack of porosity of social boundaries, there is also evidence of overlap of social networks, of co-operation and mutual help, with little antisocial behaviour. Whilst Madeley had characteristics of both a close- and loose-knit community, the thesis has shown that it could more accurately be described as the former in 1891.
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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