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United by the Struggle?

Did womens involvement in the 1984-5

Miners Strike have a lasting impact on the role of women in
former mining communities?

PO53014A: Dissertation
Anya Reevell
Goldsmiths, University of London
Department of Politics
April 2014


United by the Struggle? Did womens involvement in the 1984-5
Miners Strike have a lasting impact on the role of women in
former mining communities?
PO53014A: Dissertation
Student ID: 33267899
Goldsmiths, University of London
Department of Politics
April 2014

This paper set out to assess whether womens involvement in the 1984-5 British Miners
Strike had a lasting impact on their roles within former mining communities. It evaluated the
research based in one former mining community and investigated whether the opportunities
for women afforded by the strike had endured the thirty years that had passed. The aims of
this paper were to examine womens roles within the strike in order to compare gender
relations before and afterwards, and to examine their interpretations of the effect of the strike
on their roles within the community. The aims were addressed through a qualitative
methodological approach and a broadly interpretivist paradigm. In addition, the data was
gathered through semi-structured interviews with four women who had knowledge of the
strike and mining communities. The paper explored key consensuses and contradictions
within previous literature and used the data gathered to clarify questions that emerged. The
paper concludes that womens roles in the community were certainly altered as a direct effect
of the strike. They gained a new consciousness and men and women participated in a more
equal division of roles.



I would firstly like to thank the four women who agreed to give up their time to participate in
this research. Their knowledge, their experience, and their strength in the face of an attack on
their community has been inspiring. I would also like to thank my dissertation supervisor, Dr.
Simon Griffiths, for trusting me to set out on this project despite it seeming rather ambitious.
I am also especially grateful to everyone who has encouraged me (even if it did border on
harassment) to continue writing, as well as everyone who pointed me towards useful articles
and literature. They know who they are.
Thank you.


- Abstract.................................................................... i.

- Acknowledgements.................................................. ii.

- Contents.................................................................... iii.

- Chapter One: Introduction........................................ 1.

- Chapter Two: Literature Review.............................. 5.

- Chapter Three: Methodology.................................... 14.

- Chapter Four: Data Analysis..................................... 20.

- Chapter Five: Conclusion.......................................... 33.

- Bibliography.............................................................. 37.

- Appendix A: Research Schedule............................... 41.

- Appendix B: Informed Consent Form....................... 42.

- Appendix C: Interview Questions............................. 43.


Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Introduction
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984-5 Miners Strike that gripped England,
Scotland and Wales. The longest industrial dispute in Britain, subsequently ending in defeat
for the miners, pitted neighbour against neighbour, worker against the state, and fractured
once thriving communities. In 1984, there were 170 underground mines across Britain, now
only three remain, albeit with uncertain futures (Goodley, 2014; Pantry, 2014). Meanwhile,
communities whose fortunes had been built around the pit are now blighted by poverty,
unemployment, and long-term sickness (Bennet, Beynon and Ray, 2000). However, despite
the crushing of the miners, the demise of King Coal, and the destruction of mining
communities, one group came out of the strike with their heads held higher than ever before:
working-class women.
This paper will begin with an initial chapter outlining the context and theoretical framework
of the research. The aims of the research will also be detailed in this chapter, and the
methodological approach used to achieve them will be briefly presented.
1.2 Context and Theoretical Framework
There have been a number of studies of working-class communities in the twentieth century,
springing from the predominantly male, middle-class fascination with such no-nonsense,
unromantic ways of life. Orwells (1937) The Road to Wigan Pier details the working-
classes, but even a writer as seemingly unromantic as Orwell still manages to look at the
working-classes through the fog of an Edwardian music hall (Hoggart, 1957: 17). What
immediately stands out in such accounts is the admiration for the masculine nature of the
working-class community.

In contrast, Richard Hoggarts (1957) seminal The Uses of Literacy details the lives of the
working-classes from his own similar background. He contended that the moral economy of
working-class culture was being undermined by the increasing affluence and mass culture of
the 1950s (Hoggart, 1957). The field then moved towards specific studies of mining
communities with the celebrated Coal is our Life by Dennis et al. (1969). Ashton was a
small mining town in West Yorkshire, shaped definitively by the colliery and therefore
characterised by a male norm. (Dennis et al., 1969).
However, whilst these influential works vary in their treatment of women in mining
communities, they are all based on a predominantly male perspective. They are essentially all
judgements on a womans position made by men. This research will therefore offer a long-
overdue entirely female perspective on these issues.
The celebrated role of women in the Miners Strike also opened up another varied body of
literature. Many female commentators, excited by the potential of womens involvement in
the strike, dedicated their research to examining the strike from a feminist perspective
(Loach, 1985; Ali, 1986; Campbell, 1986; Stead, 1987).
However, they were all formulated in the aftermath of the strike, when women were both
buoyed by the euphoria of the year long dispute, yet weighed down by the mens return to
work. This research therefore focuses on womens perspectives after thirty years of
reflection. The excitement of the strike has died away and the realities of pit closures are now
clear. These women have therefore had sufficient time to evaluate their lives before and after
the strike.


1.3 Research Aims
The main purpose of the research was to examine any changes in gender relations in former
mining communities owing to the role women played in the Miners Strike. The research
stemmed primarily from my own experience of life in one of these communities. A
vandalised pit wheel stands where the colliery once stood, the Miners Welfare hall is
boarded-up, and forgotten regeneration attempts are symbolised by hundreds of roundabouts
from which half-finished roads lead literally to nowhere. The thirtieth anniversary of the
strike also provided the perfect opportunity for this research. There is renewed interest, with
commemorations taking place almost every week, and articles celebrating the role of women
in the strike are featuring frequently in the national press. The two research aims are therefore
as follows:
- To examine womens roles within the strike, in order to compare gender relations
during the strike with the conditions before and afterwards. There have been few
comprehensive studies of the distinctive mining community in recent years, despite
the fact that these communities are still very much defined by their mining heritage.
- To examine womens interpretations of the effect of the strike on gender roles, in
order to re-examine whether womens involvement had the profound impact as
postulated by the consensus in the literature.
My experience of life in a former mining community has, somewhat disappointingly, led me
to believe that they are still very much male-dominated. Whilst strike involvement may have
exposed the women to opportunities outside the mining village, it seems to have failed to
have had an enduring impact on their roles. Womens circumstances seem to have reverted
back to how they were.

Nevertheless, the research was conducted with an open mind. The methodological approach
used to address both of these aims was a qualitative, dialogue-based approach using a series
of semi-structured interviews with women who had different degrees of involvement in the
strike. This feminist and broadly interpretivist approach gave the women the opportunity to
discuss the issues as they saw fit, and valued their voices in a way which other studies have
failed to do.
1.4 A Note on the Terminology
The title of this project refers to the role of women in former mining communities. This can
sometimes be rather long-winded, so womens roles, the role of women and gender
relations are used interchangeably throughout this dissertation. In addition, women in
former mining communities is used interchangeably with mining women and miners
wives. It is purely for stylistic reasons and the reader should therefore adopt a common-
sense understanding of them.
1.5 Summary
This paper will firstly present a wide-ranging literature review in order to situate the research
within the wider academic debates and theories. It will then discuss the methodological
approach chosen for the research. The paper will then present the findings of the research in a
chronological structure in the data analysis chapter. This will be followed by a concluding
discussion on the findings in relation to the research aims as well as recommendations for
further research.
The next chapter will be the literature review. This chapter will explore and analyse previous
literature related to the topic.


Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
This chapter will position the research within broader academic debates. There is a rich body
of literature to which this project undoubtedly owes a huge debt, and it is this varied literature
that the research will build upon.
The literature will be analysed in line with the research aims. Womens roles in mining
communities before the strike will therefore be discussed initially, with analysis of the
explanations for these roles. This will be followed by a discussion of womens motivations
and roles during the strike, and their interpretations of its effect on gender relations.
2.2 Studies in Coalfield Communities: Womens Roles before the Strike
This section is concerned with examining the historically constituted understandings of
mining communities as developed in a number of formative studies. It will focus on the way
gender roles in such communities have been defined in a range of works.
The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of a number of seminal community studies based
around working-class life. Perhaps the most notable text in this formation is Hoggarts (1957)
The Uses of Literacy which suggested that the pre-war working-class culture, incorporating
solidarity and collective care, was being undermined by the new affluence and emerging
mass culture of the 1950s (Hoggart, 1957; 245). Although at times somewhat sentimental,
Hoggart expertly uses his own experience in a working-class community to describe gender
relations. The working-class woman in 1957 left the outside world of politics to her husband
and received a small portion of his wages as housekeeping money. The working-class
husband was the boss in the home and it was classed as an affirmative act of kindness if he
helped his wife with household chores (Hoggart, 1957: 38-49).

Studies such as Hoggarts highlight signs of change, such as the basic attitudes of some
younger husbands towards their wives, and the broader external shift towards individualised
identities rather than class loyalties (Hoggart, 1957: 50-1; Savage, 2000: 23-4). However,
mining communities seemed to contradict these changes. Older collective structures kept
their shape, as characterised in Dennis et al.s (1969) Coal is our Life, which reveals the
centrality of gender relations through a structural-functionalist approach, viewing role
mapped out on the basis of need or function (Kirk and Wall, 2008: 10). The sharp division of
gender in these communities exemplifies this. A strict separation of duties alongside separate
working and social lives gave women the status of unpaid domestic labourers (Dennis et al.,
1969: 201-7). They toiled daily in a back-up service for the coal industry, legitimised by the
communitys notions of a womans place in the home and the masculine nature of mining
(Richards, 1996: 25). According to Dennis et al., wives [did] not actively resent this
situation and had been successfully conditioned to accept it (Dennis et al., 1969: 203, 227).
However, how far was this entirely the truth and to what extent was this just the product of
mens own analysis of the situation? There is very little evidence to suggest the study deals at
all with women; indeed, the word women does not appear in the index, it simply refers to
wives (Dennis et al., 1969: 255). This typically structural-functionalist approach merely
perpetuates these internalised ideas about a womans place in the community, referring to her
only in relation to the men.
Dennis et al. believed Coal is our Life to be a paradigm case for understanding the nature of
mining life, and in later decades writers continued to focus on coalfield communities. They
confirmed the stagnant nature of gender relations (Kirk and Wall, 2008: 11). In line with
Dennis et al., Bulmer (1978) maintains the view of distinct mens and womens worlds and
provides the basis for further studies of mining communities. The defining characteristics of
Bulmers Ideal-Type mining community are isolation, homogeneity of occupation, and

cultural insularity (Bulmer, 1978; quoted in Richards, 1996: 16). This sits in harmony with
Lockwoods conclusions on the specific nature of the mining community. A one-class
population and low rates of geographical and social mobility make these communities
inward-looking and less-susceptible to the influences of wider society (Lockwood, 1966;
quoted in Richards, 1996: 17). Consequently, this would explain the stagnant nature of
gender relations as the rest of society was showing signs of change. However, Bulmer claims
that Lockwood fails to take into account endogenous changes such as the impact of human
motivation and both studies say little about wider exogenous transformations of society
(Richards, 1996: 18).
In contrast to this view, gender relations were never static. The rapid decline of industry in
the post-war period elevated womens position because they began to enter the labour market
to counter economic instability (Richards, 1996: 25). Indeed, Warwick and Littlejohn concur
that where mining was not as dominant in the community, there could be a more equal status
for both genders (Warwick and Littlejohn, 1992: 84). Therefore, wider changes in society had
a positive impact on womens roles on the surface of their everyday lives and employment
opportunities. This is echoed by Gier and Mercier who state that post-war mine closures
altered work and domestic relations, as women were forced to pursue employment to ensure
family survival (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 255-61). However, this fails to account for the dire
lack of decent paid work for women (Waddington et al., 1991: 78). Part-time work was not
sufficient for financial reward, job security, or the career possibilities to make women
independent (Waddington et al., 1991: 78). Therefore, was the impact as large as suggested?
Nevertheless, the force of tradition was still strong and the legacy of sexist practices
remained intact (Richards, 1996: 26). This had deeper implications for women in mining
communities. Bea Campbells community with a hole in the middle theory claims that the
culture of solidarity and support in the mining community rarely extended to women. More

importantly, politics existed around miners and their interests; women were only seen as
miners wives therefore could not be classed as full members of the community. Campbell
dismisses previous male studies of mining communities by stating that they were not models
of community, rather they were models of patriarchal relationships (Campbell, 1986: 253-4).
In summary, traditional mining communities before the strike were highly segregated
between men and women. The isolated and insular communities responded slowly to wider
societal change in the post-war period; however, economic instability and the decline of
industry contributed to an amelioration of womens position. Nevertheless, women were still
excluded from higher-level community decision making. But how and why did these sharply
gendered communities occur and how were gender identities constructed?
2.2.1 The Miners Wife as a Slave
Schwarz described the wife of the coal miner as a slave to her husband and to the
industrialist. She is a slave to her husband through the masculinisation of the mining industry
and a slave to the industrialist because of her blessing of fecundity and petit bourgeois
livestock husbandry (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 262). The transition from pre-industrial to
industrialised society altered the roles of men women and Victorian values of the ideal
gentleman and lady pervaded the national consciousness, becoming a justification for the
formal exclusion of women from the mining industry (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 89). This
feminist, anti-capitalist viewpoint is shared by Campbell who claims that it was this mid-19

century feminisation of women and their protective expulsion from the labour market which
resulted in the regulation of women and the social definition of the feminine role (Campbell,
1986: 256). The exclusion of women was indicative of the extent to which the mining
industry relied on womens unpaid domestic labour in the home. As the mining industry
became masculinised further, the miners wife became the foundation upon which the

capitalists, the mining family, and the mining society would rest; the value of her work left
unacknowledged (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 90-4).
However, the question that remains is to what extent are these descriptions of mining
communities still the case and what sort of impact did the 1984-5 Miners Strike have on
these issues?
2.3 The Strike and its Effect
Did the strike significantly alter the traditional notion of men occupying the public sphere of
the workplace and formal politics, and women occupying the private sphere of the home and
the family (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 96)?
Allen describes womens involvement in the Miners Strike as one of the most well-
documented movements of working-class women, however, little attention has been
accorded to the impact of the activism on those womens outlook and lives (Allen, 2001:
2.3.1 Motivations for Involvement
Why did women suddenly decide to take an active role in the strike? Perhaps their
motivations will provide clues to the impact on gender relations. For example, could more
feminist motivations have had a greater impact on ameliorating womens position? And
conversely, if women took part to support their men; could the impact on gender relations
have been less substantial?
Several commentators express the view that womens involvement in the strike was not a
feminist movement (Loach, 1985: 169; Ali, 1986: 102-3; Green, 1990: 190). After all, why
would it have been? As we have seen above, the mining communitys focus was on men and
masculinity, and notions about womens roles had been deeply internalised over centuries

(Loach, 1985: 169; Gier and Mercier, 2006). There is therefore a consensus throughout the
work of the feminist commentators as to what role feminism and the Womens Liberation
movement played (Loach, 1985; Campbell, 1986; Ali, 1986). Whilst women who formally
identified with feminism were excited by the prospect of a working-class feminist movement,
womens participation in the strike had little to do with feminism (Ali, 1986: 102). Indeed,
Waddington et al. claim that the feminist perspective has been exaggerated (Waddington et
al., 1991: 92). The women did not formally identify with feminism and they were not
feminists wanting a radical change in gender roles, but to what extent was this the truth?
Whilst their initial motivations for involvement in the strike may not have been explicitly
feminist, this is not to say that women were satisfied with their position. Was the influence of
feminism responsible for this new dissatisfaction with their lot? Loach claims that it would
not have been possible without feminism, yet Green states that feminist ideology played a
minimal role in conditioning a new consciousness (Loach, 1985: 169; Green, 1990: 190).
This therefore requires further examination. However, mining women did not see their
struggle as separate from their husbands, brothers and fathers (Green, 1990: 190). They were
scared of what they would become with the influence of feminism (Allen, 2001: 56).
They were motivated therefore by the direct needs of the community (Loach, 1985: 170; Gier
and Mercier, 2006: 331). Women used the gendered nature of the community in a positive
way to undertake in a remodelling of assumptions about their responsibilities (Loach, 1985:
169; Allen, 2001: 48). Their participation was portrayed by the media as supportive wives
and daughters, dutifully performing the domestic role that enabled the men to continue the
strike (Ali, 1986: 84). However, this unfair portrayal simply reinforced traditional gender
roles, as well as emphasising a distinction made between women who participated at a
domestic level, in soup kitchens for instance, and women who participated at a political
level. Ali states that women were active at three levels. Firstly, they were active at a

practical, domestic level in order for men to continue the strike at this level they were not
political (Ali, 1986: 94). They were also active by placing themselves alongside men on
picket lines and at rallies, and ahead of men in activities such as going abroad and making
connections (Ali, 1986: 94-5). This presumes that the women feeding the community in the
soup kitchens were not engaged in a political act, or were not politically aware. The work of
Spence and Stephenson is interesting on this issue because of their long involvement with
Women Against Pit Closures. They criticise this dichotomy between personal and political
which, often used in discussions of womens roles, obscures the emotional and personal
dimensions of their involvement (Spence and Stephenson, 2007; Wainwright, 2009: 107).
2.3.2 The Strikes Impact on Gender Relations
Women were therefore seemingly motivated not by feminism, but by responding to the needs
of the community. But what impact did it have on their lives, and more broadly on their role
within the community? Their organisation in the strike was in contrast to the traditional
lifestyle in pit communities which had no organised support or solidarity for women
(Campbell, 1986; Ali, 1986: 88).
The popular reading of womens participation sees women in soup kitchens, on picket lines
and at rallies. On one level, this communicates womens traditional support roles in the
community, reinforcing gender stereotypes, but on another level, it emphasises the
importance of female activism. However, a simple, linear passage from domesticity into
politicisation has been deduced from this reading and favoured over all others (Spence and
Stephenson, 2007). Spence and Stephenson build upon Campbells explanation of this
tendency to infantilise women (Campbell, 1986: 262; Spence and Stephenson, 2007). It
suggests that women suddenly came-of-age and shed their domesticated existence for a
public one (Campbell, 1986: 262). It is a masculine view which fails to recognise the

importance of small-scale and emotional political work of women (Spence and Stephenson,
2007). We must therefore allow for ambivalence and avoid over-simplified readings of the
The literature is staunchly divided into two camps which disagree on the impact of the strike.
Winterton and Waddington et al. believe that it was minimal. Most women wanted to return
to normal and larger claims for the impact of the strike cannot be validated (Winterton, 1989:
238; Waddington et al., 1991: 92). However, on the other hand, several authors claim that the
strike had a strong impact on the roles of women (Campbell, 1986; Seddon, 1986; Stead,
1987; Green, 1990; Allen, 2001; Gier and Mercier, 2006). Whilst women did, to some
degree, want to return to normal after months of taxing activity ending in defeat, the strike
broke down traditional gender stereotypes, acceded women the right together in public, and
challenged womens roles in family life (Allen, 2001: 64; Gier and Mercier, 2006: 332;
Campbell, 1986: 280; Seddon, 1986: 12; Green, 1990: 188). Moreover, these authors claim
that women took what they had learnt to new struggles and were at the centre of attempts to
regenerate their communities after the pit closures (Allen, 2001: 64-5; Gier and Mercier,
2006: 331).
There is therefore a clear contradiction in the literature which needs further examination. A
more balanced view is offered by Campbell who states that the dynamic of male power and
female subordination was not washed away completely, but it was categorically challenged
by the women (Campbell, 1986: 280). Similarly, Ali suggests that women began to question
the male-dominated mining community, but this manifested itself in women incorporating
feature of masculine culture, such as the pub. It was an accommodation rather than a radical
overhaul of the structure of gender relations (Ali, 1986: 102).

Drawing on Spence and Stephenson, perhaps womens lives before the strike determined
their lives afterwards. In addition, these conclusions were formulated in the tumultuous years
immediately following the strike. Perhaps thirty years of reflection will offer a different
2.4 Summary
In conclusion, this chapter has assessed the consensus and contradictions surrounding
traditional womens roles and the impact of womens participation in the strike. Traditionally,
mining communities were sharply gendered, owing to the masculinisation of mining and the
structure of capitalism. However, the studies referenced described models of patriarchal
relationships, with little attention given to womens interpretations.
The strike demonstrates the supposed breaking point for these traditional gender relations but
there is little agreement on its actual impact. We also must be wary of over-simplified
accounts when further examining womens roles within the strike and their interpretation of
its effect. In addition, much of the literature was researched in the years after the strike, so
perhaps new accounts will shed light on a different perspective.
The next chapter will present and justify the methodological approach and research methods
used in the study. Alongside this, key discussions of specific components of research
methodology will be discussed.


Chapter Three: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
This chapter will justify the research strategies and methodological approaches employed in
order to address the aims of this paper and gather the data. This chapter analyses the research
methods and paradigm by addressing: the methods utilised, reliability and validity issues, and
ethical considerations.
3.2 Research Aims
The research aims referred to throughout the paper were as follows:
- To examine womens roles within the strike, in order to compare gender roles during
the strike with the conditions beforehand and afterwards; and,
- To examine womens interpretations of the effect of the strike on gender relations
3.3 Research Methods
This research coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the Miners Strike, and whilst
analyses of working-class communities, specifically mining communities, have been popular,
there has been waning interest. In addition, as womens history becomes far more embedded
in the curriculum than when these first studies were completed, this research sought to offer a
starting point to combine the two and present an analysis of the changes in womens roles in
mining communities (Hannam, 2008).
The research focused upon how women perceived their roles in the historically male-
dominated mining communities before the strike, during the strike, and thirty years later. It
adopts a qualitative, feminist approach, as it is important to give voice to the female
perspective. Many previous studies have not only been undertaken by male academics, but

have also been concerned with the male characters in mining communities (Dennis et al..,
1969; Bulmer, 1978). The research therefore seeks to address this imbalance and celebrate
the female contribution to mining communities which is rich and varied.
Adopting a qualitative research approach draws attention to the value of human beings
individual perceptions of the world (Bell, 2010). It is also sceptical of traditional, scientific
approaches that stress neutrality and objectivity, as subjective reality is the only way to know
human behaviour (Smith, 1990). This broadly interpretivist paradigm also posits a
transactional, subjectivist epistemology and a reality that cannot be separated from our
knowledge of it. The researchers values are therefore bound to be inherent in all phases of
the research process. It is through this dialectical process that an understanding of the social
world can be put forward (Cohen and Crabtree, 2006).
Interviews were chosen to address the aims of the study in order to give voice to the
perspectives of women who have so often been overlooked in studies of a similar nature.
Reality is not only external to individuals (something which can be observed); it is also
created in ones mind. Interviews are therefore transactional and allow findings to be co-
created between the researcher and the participant. It was with this in mind that the interviews
were carefully constructed to make the participant feel at ease and to maximise the utility of
the interview. A semi-structured interview was chosen as the participants were considered to
be in a knowledgeable position from which they could confidently discuss the questions,
whilst simultaneously being free to respond with what they felt was important (See Appendix
However, the interview technique is time-consuming in respect to approaching participants,
formulating the interview, and gaining informed consent. In addition, small-scale qualitative

research has been criticised as being subjective, lacking in triangulation, and showing
evidence of bias.
Nevertheless, bias has been reduced by ensuring that from the outset the researchers relation
to the study has been explicitly stated (Griffiths, 1998). Inevitably, the research has been
specifically chosen according to the researchers own interests, beliefs, values and ontology
(Sikes, 2000; Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2011). However, by ensuring honesty about the
researchers own experiences it is possible to reduce such bias and partisanship.
Moreover, a pilot study was a crucial to help minimise bias. The pilot study provided the
opportunity for the interview questions to be analysed by outsides bodies to ensure their
suitability. My supervisor piloted the questions in order to eliminate any leading questions
and they were piloted upon a critical friend who is dissociated from the university therefore
completely impartial to the research. This ultimately assured that the questions were clear,
concise and were not leading.
Because this research focused upon womens perceptions of their roles, women were
specifically targeted. In particular, women who were known to be knowledgeable about the
research aims were selected; this is characterised as a purposive sample. The main advantage
to this is that it is built around targeting particular people who have the knowledge and skills
to fulfil the research aims (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2011). However, time and cost
constraints meant that only a small number of participants took part. Therefore, due to the
small sample size and the representation of only one community, generalisations should not
be made lightly.
Booth (1996) argues that questions of reliability and validity are not suitable for judging
small-scale, qualitative research. Nevertheless, steps have been taken to increase the
trustworthiness and professionalism of the data. Reliability is somewhat limited in this

approach, owing to the fact that it is based on the participants interpretations of their own
lives and communities, at a certain point in time. However, the participants were purposely
selected for their knowledge and were all asked set questions to enhance the reliability.
Validity is also problematic with this approach as it is difficult to corroborate data which
deals with the personal perceptions and experiences of a small number of participants.
Validity within qualitative research is concerned with honesty, depth, and richness of data
(Winter 2000). The research therefore maximises validity through accurate data analysis and
by giving the participants a meaningful voice throughout. It also attaches validity to the
knowledge and meaning that others can gain from the data produced (Hamersley, 1972). In
addition, greater confidence in the interview data has been ensured by triangulating the data
with other sources such as documents, and by highlighting common themes. Finally, the
interview transcripts were offered to the participants to guarantee honesty and participant
3.4 Ethical Considerations
Ethical issues cannot be avoided and they arise during all stages of the research (Griffiths,
1998: 134). All participants have been protected and valued, and have not been exploited or
misinformed in any way (Griffiths, 1998). Gaining informed consent from the participants
was the primary way of addressing ethical issues as it acknowledged the participants
freedom and choice to be, or not to be, part of the research (Cohen, Manion, and Morrison,
2011). Participants were given a consent form before the interview which detailed the title of
the study and their rights as individual participants (see Appendix B). The participants were
given sufficient time to read the consent form and, before signing, were explicitly asked if
they fully comprehended their role or needed any additional information. Above all, it was

also reiterated to the participants that they had to right to access the research and the right to
withdraw from it at any point (Sikes, 2007; Bell, 2010).
Anonymity and confidentiality have also been constantly upheld. The community in which
the participants live and work is not publicised and no personal names have been used.
However, there is a slight chance that participants may be recognised as they are well-known
members of their community and have taken part in interviews for other projects over the
years. Nevertheless, the participants were aware of this and understood the implications
3.5 Research Schedule
To ensure that the research was undertaken in a timely and professional manner, a strict
research schedule was designed and adhered to. A chronological list of key events in the
research process can be found in Appendix A.
3.6 Conduct of the Research
The research and interviews were carried out as planned. The interviews took place over two
days and all participants were given a consent form and a copy of the interview questions.
Discussions also took place about the research project. No problems were encountered during
the data collection process as the interviews were pre-organised and participants were fully
informed in due course. The interviews were recorded and immediately transcribed to
provide an accurate account. Whilst the presence of a recording device carries the risk of
subduing the participant and therefore compromising the accuracy of the data, all participants
were fully comfortable with being recorded.
3.7 Summary
This chapter has addressed the different components of this projects research methodology
and has also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the research methods. It has paid

particular attention to validity, reliability and ethical considerations, as well as steps that have
been taken to reduce bias.
The next chapter will be the data analysis. It will present the findings of the research in a
chronological structure, drawing upon direct quotations from all four interviews to support
the findings. The findings will then be critically interrogated and underpinned with relevant


Chapter Four: Data Analysis
4.1 Introduction
This chapter presents the findings of the research. The interviews were devised to encourage
comment on the participants lives before, during, and after the 1984-5 Miners Strike, in
order to assess its impact on the roles of women in former mining communities. Analysis of
the interview transcripts revealed a clearly divided sequence to their roles before, during, and
after; this chapter will therefore be structured using a chronological approach. Verbatim
quotations are used throughout to ensure that the participants are given a valued voice.
However, it is important to note that the data draws upon only a small number of women
from one community; we must therefore be wary of over-generalisation.
4.2 Before the Strike
Home Life
Womens pre-strike roles in mining communities were highly differentiated from mens
(Dennis et al., 1969; Richards, 1996). Dennis et al. suggested that men and women
participated in separate duties and routines, and working and social lives (Dennis et al., 1969:
201-7). The women interviewed tended to agree with this account. All four participants
referred to their home life as traditional, implying an understanding of how gender relations
in mining communities had always operated, as well as acknowledging the fact that they were
aware that many communities no longer functioned this way. Participant B discussed her
traditional role as a woman:
I was a housewife who looked after him [she pointed to her husband] the only thing
he ever lifted around here was a cup of tea! He went off the work and I was just a
little housewife. But thats just the way it was.

The other participants also noted the fact that this was just the way it was. Even if the
women were given the status of unpaid domestic labourers in a back-up service for the coal
industry, they did not resent this (Richards, 1996: 25). Participant A stated that she never felt
exploited: I just enjoyed every minute of being at home with the children. So no, I never felt
exploited because Im a woman. I suppose I might have been in a capitalist way. The
participants preferred to align themselves with other members of the working-class, rather
than members of their own sex. They did not feel exploited because of the fact that they were
women; rather it was because they were at the mercy of the National Coal Board
Gender Relations
Dennis et al. noted that wives did not actively resent their roles in the community and that
they had been conditioned to accept them (Dennis et al., 1969: 203, 227). Whilst this was true
to a certain extent, as seen above, the increased geographical mobility that came with greater
affluence opened mining communities up to people who had not been born there. Migrants to
the area were therefore able to compare the mining community to the larger towns and cities.
Two of the participants had moved to the area. Participant B recalled:
When I came to this village, I came from Huddersfield and it was like stepping back in
time. Women didnt speak out of turn and they were a bit kept down here. There was
a massive difference - it was a bit like a mens club here.
Participant C also noted that, women were downtrodden. There was therefore a clear
difference in gender relations between, for example Huddersfield, despite its status as a
predominantly working-class town, and the mining community. However, when Participant C
was asked whether she felt that all women were downtrodden or if it was only because she
had been able to see a difference, she replied:

Im very forthright and Ive always had that streak in me, so I didnt like the way men
treated women. And I told everyone that. A lot of them thought like I thought though,
except they didnt dare say anything.
Participant C therefore believed that her individual personality traits influenced her
interpretation of gender relations. She believed that other women felt the same way but did
not have the confidence to speak out: A lot of women were meek and mild but me and my
friends never took any crap off our husbands. Studies of mining communities are quick to
make large-scale generalisations but fail to take into account the influence of the individual
actor. Nevertheless, the participants who described mining women as downtrodden both
came from elsewhere. The participants who had spent their whole lives in the mining
community did not experience such a sharp division. This implies that women were to some
extent conditioned to accept their position by the long process of mining masculinisation.
The community in question was a large village situated a stones throw away from several
large towns and two large cities. Whilst the majority of men worked in nearby pits, there
were other employment opportunities in the village (such as factories and agriculture) and
even more in the nearby towns. Warwick and Littlejohn claim that there was a more equal
status for both genders where mining was not as dominant in the community (Warwick and
Littlejohn, 1992: 84). All four participants were employed before the strike. Participant B,
who earlier remarked that women were kept down, recalled that, a lot of women did part-
time work round here because there were a few factories. This seems to contradict Warwick
and Littlejohns claim because, despite their opportunities for employment, some of the
participants still perceived gender relations to be unequal.

All four women left school and went to work; Participant A in a bank in a nearby town, and
Participant B in the potato fields in the potato months. However, despite opportunities for
work, the participants unanimously expressed apathy toward their jobs and a desire to return
to the home to look after the kids. Participant D recalled:
I worked when I left school, got married, had my children, and then gave up work to
look after them. I hated working in that factory so I was more than happy to give it up
when the children came along.
Whilst all four women gave up work to be housewives, they were not forced to do so and
were happy about it. This had to be as a result of internalised notions of a womans place.
After all, their husbands would never have dreamed of giving up work to look after their
children. However, it reveals more about the participants dislike for their low-paid,
monotonous jobs. Participant A enjoyed every minute of staying at home with the kids
because she regularly saw her friends and their children. The participants expressed the view
that equal gender relations were not a top priority in comparison to general satisfaction and
enjoyment in their lives. Participant D noted:
I know that when I quit the factory I was going back to just being a housewife but it
just wasnt worth the money. I wanted to spend as much time with [the children] as I
could. With him at the pit, who knows how long youve got?
Again, the participants therefore revealed an awareness of inequality in gender relations;
however, they were happy to take responsibility for the running of the home as it meant they
were able to spend time with their families and friends. Perhaps it is a wider comment on the
role of individualism, which was echoed in a statement by Participant A. She explained that,
at the time, she was not thinking about her fellow women, rather, everything [she] did was

for [her] family. Even though I class myself as a collectivist and a socialist, it was always
quite an individualistic thing to do things just to make sure my family was okay.
Schwarzs description of the mining woman as a slave to her husband was not experienced
among the participants (Gier and Mercier, 2006: 262). This seems to be a case of the well-
meaning observer casting assumptions about individuals feelings. The women did not feel
that they were slaves; they recognised that their home lives were traditional, and the two
women who had moved to the community thought that women were kept down. However,
none of them resented this or actively sought to change it.
4.3 During the Strike
Motivations for Action
All four women were keen to point out the difference between the 1984 strike and the
previous strike in 1972. This strike was not about improved pay or working conditions, it was
about the survival of communities. Participant D stated that, if the pit went, wed lose our
livelihoods and our identities. Similarly, Participant C claimed, we were fighting for
survival. This is a statement that echoed across all four interviews. The womens first and
foremost motivation for involvement in the strike was a feeling of there being no other
option. Participant A described her motivations:
Just a general sense of anger and there was nothing else to do. We were left with no
choice. We knew theyd been planning for it I remember a friend saying to me after
the 83 election, well thats my effin job down the drain then! And I think people
knew it wasnt just the miners we were fighting for.

It was therefore do or die for the women in 1984. Nevertheless, they were also motivated by
the direct needs or their community (Loach, 1985: 170; Gier and Mercier, 2006: 331). They
saw poverty, saw debt and saw fear and knew that the community needed food, clothes and
that sense of coming together. This tended to agree with previous literature which states that
women mobilised in support of the community, rather than a commitment to feminist
ideology. These were the first women to become involved. What motivated even more
women to participate, however, was the enhanced community spirit that had been formed.
Participant B stated:
It was everybody coming together there were people who you didnt really know
that well who came together. We were all in the same boat and were all pulling the
same weight. So you had to do something.
Participant B also alludes to a sense of duty. The women felt like they had to participate.
Something which previous literature fails to mention is the fact that many women became
actively involved because they did not wish to be the subject of gossip in the community.
They did not want to be known as that lazy bugger who couldnt be bothered to get her
hands dirty. Nevertheless, there were women who chose not to become involved and
Participant B perceived the reason to be refusal from their husbands to allow them.
Womens Roles in the Strike
Women used the communitys assumptions about their roles and responsibilities to undertake
in tasks essential to the continuation of the strike. In this way, they were the supportive
wives and mothers as portrayed by the media (Ali, 1986: 84). In some ways it was just a
case of emotional and practical support, really. However, this falls far short of the whole
picture. Once the women got involved, they quickly realised the strikes potential impact on
their position in the community. Participant B recalled how a lot of women round here had

never made that step forward, but suddenly it was like they realised they could break away
and be liberated. Participant A echoed her statement: a lot of women did things they never
thought they could do... it took them away from the kitchen sink. Whether they minded or
not, the masculine mining community had only ever offered women a tiny amount of
opportunity, but the strike offered them the chance for travel, public speaking, and politics.
Campbell claimed that women were never full members of the community; however,
according the participants, the strike profoundly changed this (Campbell, 1986: 254).
Participant C stated, Before the strike I was known as someones wife and mother, but during
the strike I was known as me. Everyone knew my name. Most men in the mining community
would have been immediately recognised by name because of their work in the pit and their
leisure activities. However, the strike enabled women to appropriate this gender-specific
On first examination, it would seem that roles were reversed during the strike. Many men
stayed at home: my husband took over at home while I was off doing my thing and some
women did become the breadwinners and head of the household, and the strike increasingly
saw women taking on traditional mens roles. Participant B helped out in a soup kitchen
which has been read as an extension of a traditional support role, but she thought there was
much more to it (Spence and Stephenson, 2007):
The soup kitchen wasnt just cooking. Ive got pictures of me and my friend
unloading a big lorry. We were doing the work of men! When the lorries turned up the
women would unload them thats why I had great big muscly arms during the strike!
The women were frequently found on the picket lines, traditionally a place for men, where
they excelled at persuading potential scabs not to return to work. They were also able to visit

places such as London, and even go abroad, in order to raise money and awareness for their
In addition, Participant C stated that even though some men had mixed reactions to what the
women were doing, the majority were incredibly proud of what we were achieving. It seems
that men accepted this alteration in gender relations because, after all, they just accepted all
the support they could get. Participant A echoed this statement with her opinion that:
Class is the biggest dividing line in society. We are divided along class lines, not
gender lines. There is definitely a place for fighting for womens rights but, like the
song went, we were united by the struggle.
Men were therefore willing to accept womens new found confidence and participation
because it equalled more support in their fight. The whole community was subsequently
united against the common enemy, the state, rather than being divided by gender. For
instance, when the police visited Participant Bs house early one morning, her new
confidence in the face of the enemy enabled her to express her support for the community.
She recalled that something clicked in [her] head and she ran out in [her] little nightie into
the middle of the road, blocked the police car and shouted, Victory to the Miners!
Another popular reading of the strike states that women experienced a simple, linear passage
from domesticity into politicisation during the strike (Spence and Stephenson, 2007).
However, the participants adamantly disagreed with this. All four described themselves as
politically aware before the strike and agreed that an understanding of politics was
necessary to be active at any level in the strike, whether it be in soup kitchens or public
speaking. Participant A stated:

Most people I know who were involved were political. They werent necessarily
members of the Labour Party but they definitely had that understanding. How could
you want to be involved, or even give emotional support, without understanding what
was going on? It was part and parcel of the same thing.
So women did not simply suddenly come-of-age during the strike (Campbell, 1986: 262).
They were already politically aware, and it is condescending to assume that it was only their
involvement in the strike that provided the impetus for an interest in politics. It is not possible
to be oblivious to politics when your community is constantly being attacked by the
The Influence of Feminism
The literature claims that feminism was not a factor in womens decision to act during the
strike and, as seen above, the participants agreed with this statement. Again, as seen above,
the women interviewed did not actively resent their roles or seek to alter them, so it is
unsurprising that their motivations were not feminist. But would their new consciousness
have been possible without feminisms influence?
There is no consensus within previous literature, and similarly, contradictions appeared in the
interviews (Loach, 1985: 169; Green, 1990: 190). Participant A stated that she could not get
worked up about the problems of middle-class women who are fighting for gender equality
who are on 150,000 in the City of London. When asked whether she believed feminism was
responsible for conditioning a new consciousness, she replied:
Thats cobblers. I dont think it was a feminist movement at all I think it had an
impact on gender relations for the better but it was in no way similar to what those

middle-class feminists were fighting for. A lot of miners wives were aware of it but it
wasnt part of their everyday consciousness.
On the other hand, Participant B felt that it owed a hell of a lot to the Womens Liberation
movement. She claimed that wed have still been way back in time if it wasnt for those
women. I honestly believe wed still be chained to the kitchen sink. Participant A describes
herself as a staunch socialist, so perhaps it is safe to assume that the pervasiveness of feminist
ideology depended on how the women saw themselves as part of society. Participant A saw
her foremost responsibility as being towards fellow members of her class, whether male or
female, whereas Participants B and C were more susceptible to the arguments of feminism.
These participants were also the ones who had moved to the mining community after
spending time in a larger town. Perhaps their experience of different classes, as opposed to a
one-class mining community, was a factor in this.
4.4 Beyond the Strike
Finally, the interviews concluded that womens roles did change for the better during the
strike. Men and women participated in a more equal share of responsibilities and women
began to take on roles that had traditionally been reserved for men. However, did this new
state of gender relations continue afterwards, or did people simply want to return to normal,
as suggested by Winterton and Waddington et al. (Winterton, 1989: 238; Waddington et al.,
1992: 92)?
The women agreed that, after months of hardship and defeat for the miners, people wanted to
return to normal. All four participants highlighted the influence of the build up of debt in
their desire for normality. Participant B stated: Theyd got houses and cars to pay for.
Participant A also agreed: For the first two years we just wanted to pay off out debts. People
just wanted to resume paying their mortgages. However, the phrase returning to normal

has been presumed to mean going back to the way things were. This was not the case.
Participant A stated that there was a sense of wanting to get back to normal but not
necessarily to the way things were before. Thus, the womens desire for normality did not
mean they wanted to reverse the alteration in gender relations.
Participant A remembered an occasion after the strike when she was interviewing several
miners in a local pub:
Wed been talking and it started getting to the point where a few of them were saying,
Ive got to go, Ive got to get my wifes tea ready for when she gets home from work!
I wasnt shocked but the guy from the union said that would have been unthinkable
The other participants agreed with this perception. Participant B revealed that because of the
strike, she had raised her daughter to think that shes as good as any man and not to accept
just being a housewife. The interviews therefore vindicated the claims that the strike had a
strong positive impact on the roles of women in their everyday home lives, even thirty years
after it ended.
Moreover, womens roles did not only change in terms of the household and their marriages.
The strike provided the force for many women to set their lives on an entirely different
course. All four participants were adamant that the strike had changed their lives. Participant
C thought that it was only the confidence she had gained during the strike, when womens
roles had been so drastically altered, which allowed her to go on to become a union
representative and council member. Similarly, Participant A stated, I wished I hadnt packed
in college and had the vague ideas that Id like to go back but they probably wouldnt have
come to anything had it not been for the strike. Many women did not want to return to being
housewives, after glimpsing the world outside the mining community. Instead, they returned

to education and pursued careers in academia and local politics. We made a pledge that day
to go on fighting injustices, and groups of mining women have gone on to campaign for
causes as eclectic as asylum seekers and refugees, peace and reconciliation, equality and
employment rights, and medical aid for Cuba. They have spoken all over the world and are
currently enjoying a resurgence of interest in their stories. With an amused smirk, Participant
C stated: You could say the genie was out of the bottle.
4.5 Summary
In conclusion, the four participants tended to agree with the literature about their highly
gendered roles before the strike. They all saw themselves as housewives in traditional
families but neither felt exploited because of their gender nor resented their roles. However,
migration to the area exposed unequal gender relations. All four women had opportunities for
employment, but all preferred being at home.
Furthermore, the women agreed with the literature that their motivations for involvement in
the strike were not explicitly feminist, however, they quickly realised the strikes potential for
change and opportunity. During the strike, men and women shared in a more equal division
of roles, and men were willing to accept this extra support; they were more united by class
than by gender. In addition, all the women interviewed rejected the popular reading of the
strike as domesticity into politicisation as they saw themselves as political before the
strike. Finally, the data was inconclusive on the role of feminism in conditioning womens
new consciousness.
Gender relations were therefore altered during the strike, but did it continue afterwards? The
women concurred that they wanted to return to normal, however, this did not mean that they
wanted to return to the way things were previously. There is still a more equal division of

roles and the strike put their lives on completely different courses, allowing them to pursue
opportunities and careers that they had not imagined were possible.
The next chapter will provide an overview of the outcomes of the research. It will also
discuss the constraints of the study and recommendations for further research.


Chapter Five: Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
This project sought to examine the impact of womens involvement in the 1984-5 Miners
Strike on their role within the traditionally male-dominated mining community. This chapter
will draw on the aims of the study and provide an overview of the main outcomes of the
research. It will also present suggestions for further research.
5.2 Outcomes of the Research
The two research aims were as follows:
- To examine womens roles within the strike, in order to compare gender relations
before and after the strike, and;
- To examine womens interpretations of the effect of the strike on gender roles and
It was noted in the introduction that my own experience of a former mining-community led
me to believe that little had changed since Dennis et al.s unsurpassed study of social life in a
Yorkshire mining community. However, this was from the perspective of someone now
removed from the mining community and influenced by the latest ideas of feminism and
womens roles. The research contradicted my initial hypothesis. It also proved that it is futile
to make presumptions based on a limited understanding of a situation. It was only through in-
depth conversations with women who had spent their whole lives observing the realities of
life in a mining community that a conclusion could emerge.
All four interviews concluded that the women agreed with earlier accounts of womens roles.
They had all experienced life as housewives and the separation of responsibilities.
However, they wholly accepted the role that they had been given; they believed this was just

the way things were and did not feel exploited because of their gender. If they did feel
exploited, this was in the context of their vulnerability to changes in the coal industry.
Two of the participants had moved to the community after experiencing life elsewhere and
they believed that there was a strong difference between the women they had known, and the
women in mining communities. It was because of greater affluence and therefore
geographical mobility that these women had relocated to a mining community. This research
has been concerned with the impact of the strike on gender relations; however, further
research would take into account these wider exogenous changes and their impact. Further
examination of life in mining communities might reveal how wider social change impacted
on the community. It is possible that the strike hastened such changes, or revealed changes
already underway, or even had no bearing on others; however this research was limited in its
capacity to assess these.
In addition, the research concluded that although women had opportunities for employment,
they preferred to remain at home as they did not believe the monetary reward for their jobs
was sufficient to warrant spending all their time at work. They were aware that this was an
illustration of highly unequal gender relations but this was not a priority for them.
Once womens roles in mining communities before the strike had been assessed, their roles
during the strike were analysed to examine the difference. The women agreed that they had
mobilised as it felt like their only option and also as a response to the needs of the
community. It was therefore not a feminist movement. However, the strike quickly raised a
new consciousness among women as they suddenly found themselves undertaking tasks that
were usually dominated by men. There was no consensus in the literature whether the
influence of feminism was responsible for this, and no consensus was reached in the
interviews. It is possible that womens acceptance of their position was influenced by how

the women saw themselves as part of society. The women who classed themselves as
socialists were more likely to align with fellow members of the working-class, whilst those
who were not as explicitly socialist were more open to feminism. Perhaps this comes down to
the long history of tension between feminism and the Left. The Lefts argument against
feminism was that class oppression was the biggest obstacle. What better way to challenge
this than working-class women who were aware of their oppression in relation to men?
Nevertheless, the strike produced a more equal partnership between men and women, with
both sexes taking on roles traditionally reserved for the other. Men were willing to accept this
as it meant more support for their struggle. This again implies that mining men and women
felt more united by their class than by their gender. One of the participants remarked that she
felt she had more in common with a working-class man, than with a middle-class woman.
The women felt that the strike had had a profound impact on gender relations and they
suggested that it had endured the thirty years since the end of the strike. It is important to note
again, however, that this research excluded the many other changes that had occurred over
the last thirty years. The biggest of these being pit closures, which left many men
unemployed. Research on the impact of deindustrialisation on womens roles would therefore
be an important contribution to field.
4.3 Summary
Womens involvement in the Miners Strike had a lasting impact on the role of women in
mining communities. After being subordinated to men for hundreds of years, a period of
immense change and activity created a new consciousness that gave them the confidence the
change their lives. This research proposes a new reading of the strike. The women were
aware of their subordinated position in the community before the strike but did not resent it.
After they were motivated to act in the strike, it promptly provided the realisation that their

subordinate position was not necessary and could be altered. The strike was therefore a
catalyst for changes in gender relations.
On a more general level, the strike serves as an example to women everywhere. The women
lost the battle to keep the pits open, but there was victory in what they achieved, the solidarity
they created, and in the courage they demonstrated for a whole year. A line from a South
African womens freedom song that appears on the Barnsley Women Against Pit Closures
banner seems an apt tribute:
Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.


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Appendix A
Research Schedule

- 4
March: An email was sent to a contact at the office of my local MP requesting help
contacting women who were known to be involved in the 1984-5 Miners Strike

- 5
March: I received confirmation that the office was in contact with several potential
participants and contact details were exchanged.

- 6
March: Contact was made with four women, detailing my request to undertake the
research for this project, the aims of the research, and what it would entail.

- 7
March: All four women agreed to participate and interviews were scheduled.

- 20
March: Two interviews were carried out.

- 21
March: The final two interviews were carried out.


Appendix B
Informed Consent Form
Project title: United by the Struggle? Did womens involvement in the 1984-5 Miners
Strike have a lasting impact on the role of women in former mining communities?
Material gathered during this research will be treated as confidential and securely stored.
Please answer each statement concerning the collection and use of the research data.

Name of participant: ________________________________________________________
Signature: _______________________________________ Date: ____________________
Please feel free to contact me if any additional information is required
Anya Reevell
Department of Politics
Goldsmiths, University of London
I have been given the opportunity to ask questions about
the study.


I have had my questions answered satisfactorily. Yes


I understand that I can withdraw from the study at any time
without having to give an explanation.


I agree to the interview being audiotaped and to its contents
being used for research purposes.


EITHER I agree to being identified in this interview and in
any subsequent publications or use.


OR I do not agree to being identified in this interview and
in any subsequent publications or use. Where used my
name must be removed and my comments made


I agree to the transcripts (in line with conditions outlined
above) being archived and used by other bona fide


I would like to see a copy of my transcript. Yes


I would like my name acknowledged in the report and on
the project web site (without linking it to content or



Appendix C
Interview Questions

Project title: United by the Struggle? Did womens involvement in the 1984-5 Miners
Strike have a lasting impact on the role of women in former mining communities?
1. How would you describe your life before the strike?
a. Employment
b. Roles
c. Did you ever feel exploited as a woman?

2. What was your role during the strike?
a. What was the male attitude towards your role?

3. What were your motivations for getting involved in the strike?

4. Were you aware of it being such an important movement for working-class women?
a. Role of hindsight?

5. Did you see it as a feminist movement?
a. Attitude towards feminism/womens liberation movement

6. Did you see a distinction between the different parts women played during the strike?
a. (i.e. soup kitchens/fundraising & picketing/campaigning & emotional support)

7. Based on how you described your life before the strike, did it return to this when the
men went back to work?

8. Did the strike have an effect on gender relations in your community?

9. Finally, 30 years later, would you say your involvement in the strike changed your