De-industrialization: Strengths and weaknesses as a key concept for understanding post-war British history

Tomlinson, J. (2020) De-industrialization: Strengths and weaknesses as a key concept for understanding post-war British history. Urban History, 47(2), pp. 199-219. (doi: 10.1017/S0963926819000221)

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This article argues for a central role for the concept of de-industrialization in understanding the evolution of the economies of urban Britain in the years since 1945. Above all, it is suggested, this concept is crucial because it focuses attention on the consequences of the transition from an industrial to a service-dominated labour market. To make this argument requires a careful definition of the term, along with recognition of its potential weaknesses as well as strengths. Key issues are highlighted by drawing on three diverse urban areas, which help to show the ubiquity of the process, but also its diverse patterns, chronologies and impacts. These examples are a stereotypical ‘post-industrial city’ (Dundee); a major city where de-industrialization has played an under-regarded role in developments (London); and a medium-size town in the South of England (High Wycombe), where the decline of a core industry (furniture) was crucial to its recent history. The final sections analyse the relationship between de-industrialization and other key frameworks commonly deployed to shape understanding of the recent history of Britain: ‘decline’, ‘globalization’, and ‘the triumph of neo-liberalism’.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tomlinson, Professor Jim
Authors: Tomlinson, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Journal Name:Urban History
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-8706
Published Online:23 May 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Urban History 47(2):199-219
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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