Labour history and culture: an overview

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of culture has long been of interest to social scientists. However, the fragmentary way in which the concept has been treated both within and across different disciplines as well as the ambiguity surrounding the definition and status of culture itself, has tended to obstruct rather than illuminate the study of culture. This proposition does not exclude labour history where culture has often been assumed as a theoretical category but rarely articulated as such; reference to culture is far more implicit than explicit. This article seeks to invigorate debate about the nature and function of culture within labour history. It does so by first identifying the different themes or perspectives that surround working-class culture. It then briefly explores how the concept has been treated in the field of labour history and, in particular, suggests why culture has received relatively limited treatment to date. Third, the paper sets out to define culture arguing that a sufficiently broad interpretation is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalLabour History
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • labour history
  • culture
  • contestability


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