Labour History Review

Dangerous Work, Hard Men and Broken Bodies: Masculinity in the Clydeside Heavy Industries, c. 1930-1970s

Labour History Review (2004), 69, (2), 135–151.

Abstract

In this article we use oral testimony to explore the nature of masculinities in the Clydeside heavy industries in the period c. 1930 to the 1970s, examining how working in such tough and hazardous occupations as coal mining, the iron and steel works and shipbuilding nurtured and reinforced masculine identities, especially that of the Glaswegian ‘hard man’. We also investigate the impact such work had upon male workers bodies, commenting upon the interface between capitalist exploitation and ‘machismo’ behavior in the workplace. It is argued here that this competitive, risk-taking workplace culture was capable of destroying health and earning capacity, thus eroding the essence of provider masculinity. At its extreme, this was emasculating, just as other expressions of virility and ‘machismo’ were, notably heavy drinking and smoking.

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Author details

Johnston, Ronnie

McIvor, Arthur