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The shadow of the Pithead: understanding social and political attitudes in former coal mining communities in the UK

Abreu, Maria and Jones, Calvin ORCID: 2021. The shadow of the Pithead: understanding social and political attitudes in former coal mining communities in the UK. Applied Geography 131 , 102448. 10.1016/j.apgeog.2021.102448

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The economic plight and consequent social and political attitudes of ‘left behind’ communities have become subjects of intense focus across a world impacted by inequality, social unrest, and political populism. We examine whether particular types of local long-term economic decline affect how residents in different places view the world; here in former mining communities of the UK which remain economically peripheral, and are home to community narratives that emphasise the shared economic, political and cultural heritages that are often fundamental to those places' very existence. We use data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study to contrast political views and social attitudes in communities that were (in 1981) economically dependent on coal mining with other communities that are similarly economically peripheral in contexts and challenges, but without a shared history of economic decline. We find that residents of former coalmining communities are highly politically disengaged, with low levels of trust and political efficacy, and low involvement in the political process. Moreover, our analysis shows an increase in political engagement over the EU referendum campaign period, which directly addressed some of the grievances felt by these communities. We conclude that community narratives of economic peripherality are strongly inter-linked with trust in government and political engagement.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0143-6228
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 31 March 2021
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2023 15:33

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