Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Spheres of Justice in the 1942 Betteshanger Miners’ Strike: An Essay in Historical Ethnography

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2015), 36, (1), 29–57.

Abstract

This article seeks to refresh the understanding of the 1942 Betteshanger strike, the famous symbol of the failure to enforce Order 1305, which was introduced in 1940 to ban strikes during the Second World War. The analysis is based on an ethnographic survey carried out at Betteshanger by Mass Observation during the conflict, a key primary source which has not been exploited before. It allows for a study of the conflicting descriptions and framing of the dispute by the strikers, their families and neighbours, union representatives and rank and file, coal owners and colliery managers, conciliation officers from various departments, and the press. The contention is that the complex connections between three spheres of justice – patriotism, social justice, and legality – are a central issue in reassessing the reasons for the failure to enforce Order 1305 in Betteshanger colliery.

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Author details

Mak, Ariane