Deindustrialisation and ‘Thatcherism’: moral economy and unintended consequences

Tomlinson, J. (2021) Deindustrialisation and ‘Thatcherism’: moral economy and unintended consequences. Contemporary British History, 35(4), pp. 620-642. (doi: 10.1080/13619462.2021.1972416)

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The first period of Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher in 1979-1983 saw an extraordinary acceleration of deindustrialisation-the decline in share of workers employed in industry. This article examines the diverse understandings of this trend as they developed from the mid-1970s, and how this related to the politics of the time. It then examines the approach to industry of the ‘Thatcherites’, and how this related to their moral economy assumptions about the determination of employment levels. It assesses the causes of the dramatic loss of industrial jobs after 1979, and how these losses related to the government’s economic beliefs and actions. The central thesis is that rapid deindustrialisation after 1979 was an unintended consequence of the economic policies pursued, but the enormous surge in unemployment that followed led to an attempt to fit the experience of those years into a ‘moral economy’ framework which shifted the alleged cause of job loss onto the behaviour of workers and trade unions.

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:Contemporary British History
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-7997
Published Online:30 August 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author
First Published:First published in Contemporary British History 35(4): 620-642
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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