On 25 November, 2016 Bocconi University hosted the final conference on Guido Alfani’s five-year European Research Council grant on pre-industrial inequalities in Europe. The idea for the project was born well before anyone beyond the banlieue of Paris had heard of Thomas Piketty. Moreover, it has asked different questions from Piketty and has investigated the longue durée before Piketty’s research begins in the nineteenth century. Continue reading
The closure of Teesside steelworks on the north-east coast of England in late 2015 has been heralded as ‘The End’ for steel in the district, bringing the loss of over 2,000 jobs in the industry and with it major knock-on effects ranging from the folding of supply chain firms dependent on the local industry, to cafes, pubs and shops struggling as belts were tightened. Continue reading
Disability Allowances & the Irish State
In September 2015, disability activists held a protest outside the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann). They argued that the Government’s plan to invest an additional €450 million in institutional care was a backward step, ‘a kick in the teeth’ for a group that had ‘escaped’ similar care in the past. In contrast, protesters emphasised the need to increase the allowances paid to people with disabilities, as these allowances facilitated them to ‘live with dignity and respect’ within the wider community.
Between the mid 1930s and the late 1980s, radio in the UK was subject to a set of restrictions covering the amount of recorded music which could be played. Known as “needletime”, the system evolved following a legal ruling in 1933 which held that those whose performances were captured in recordings had the right to receive compensation for the use of those recordings in public places such as shops, theatres, dance halls and – vitally – across the airwaves. Continue reading
There are few fields of study in the humanities or social sciences that remain untouched by the challenges which developed out of philosophy and social theory in the second half of the twentieth century, but British planning history is arguably one such area. To suggest that this is the case is not meant to be read as an attempt to damn the work that currently constitutes the field, but it is intended to underline that there remains scope for further work that would expand and multiply histories of British planning, perhaps unsettling but also enriching what is currently a rather singular field. Continue reading
Even though male homosexuality was decriminalised in Britain in 1967, it still occupied a legal grey area in which it could be classified as an ‘unlawful’ act contrary to the public good. This was because of the revival of a common law offence known as ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’ which was applied to those gay men who were advertising in the new gay press for friends and lovers. Continue reading
David Cameron spoke earlier this year of his desire for the ‘wholesale reform’ of the UK prison system. He explained:
A sad but true fact is that last year there were 100 babies in our country living in a prison. Yes, actually inside the prison. In the prison’s mother and baby unit, to be precise. Prison staff do their best to make these environments pleasant. Some units even have special sensory rooms, so that babies can see colours, sights and sound – even nature – that they wouldn’t otherwise see inside the grey walls of a jail. I understand why this happens. But we should ask ourselves: is it right? When we know the importance of the early years for child development, how can we possibly justify having babies behind bars?
The presence of babies in the prison system is not a new phenomenon and neither is Cameron’s concern particularly novel. Continue reading
To rethink the history of disability and employment, we can turn to one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.
Coal was one of the most notoriously dangerous British industries. Many of its most deadly incidents are well known: the Hartley Colliery disaster of 1862 that trapped and killed 204 miners in Northumberland and the 1913 explosion at Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, South Wales, that took 439 lives, to name just two. Yet everyday accidents were equally commonplace. Unlike major disasters, the common accidents, injuries and diseases faced by coalminers are near-impossible to collate and quantify. Continue reading
Social History has been publishing innovative research and provocative discussion in the field since its launch in 1976. To mark its 40th anniversary, we have brought together a small selection of the material that has appeared in the journal over the last four decades. Continue reading
Between 1976 and 1992, scores of workers, progressive labour activists and citizens, and communities rose to oppose what progressive economists Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison called ‘the deindustrialization of America.’ Coalitions of workers, union organizers, religious and civil rights leaders, and progressive activists resisted plant shutdowns in cities across the country such as Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Continue reading