Labour History Review

‘Through Trade Unionism you felt a belonging – you belonged’: Collectivism and the Self-Representation of Building Workers in Stevenage New Town

Labour History Review (2016), 81, (3), 211–236.


Building workers in Britain have often been portrayed as individualistic and independent – a fragmented and atomised sector of workers who are largely uninterested or incapable of being involved in a common struggle to improve conditions generally. However, the oral histories of a group of workers employed in the building industry in Stevenage during the post-war decades suggest a very different reality. For these workers, collectivism, solidarity, sacrifice, and struggle were the key themes of their experience on construction sites during the 1950s–1970s period. A strong commitment to trade unionism was central to this, and was also a key resource through which they constructed their self-identities.

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Author details

McGuire, Charlie

Clarke, Linda

Wall, Christine