The political economy of the management of industrial discontent in interwar Britain: the case of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement

Bourges Espinosa, Emanuel Nicolás (2021). The political economy of the management of industrial discontent in interwar Britain: the case of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Accepted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (1MB) | Preview


In order to understand the capacity for state action, we also need to consider the way in which the state responds to different forms of dissent. Framed by Open Marxist theories of the state and the insights of the revolutionary school of industrial relations and trade unionism, this thesis explains the responses of the state and the trade unions towards the National Unemployed Workers' Movement between 1921 and 1939. It advances Keith Middlemas's argument on corporate bias, recognising that interwar British administrations continued integrating business and labour associations as intermediaries of the central government to avoid the arrival of crisis and guarantee governability and social order. But it goes further to suggest that the TUC fell short as a governing institution to contain labour unrest so the state had to use its coercive apparatus against the NUWM and the CPGB to prevent industrial agitation. It draws on archival research from across the United Kingdom in order to argue that the state and the labour movement legitimised each other and joined together to marginalise the NUWM to protect their fragile institutional arrangement. The thesis contributes to the literature on the National Unemployed Workers' Movement portraying it as an industrial, political movement and presenting new evidence on the action of the state against the NUWM and a distinctive analytical perspective of the manner in which the emergence of the movement disrupted an implicit agreement between the state, trade union's representatives and employers' associations aimed at the arrival of crisis. It also contributes to ongoing debates about the state management of discontent.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT-Mexico)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year