‘Pumping the life-blood into politics and place’: labour culture and the Eveleigh railway workshops

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Abstract

This article examines interconnections between workplace, culture and politics at the New South Wales Government's Eveleigh railway workshops and in the predominantly working class communities that surrounded it between the 1880s and the 1930s. It begins by considering the nature of culture and its political and spatial dimensions. On this basis it identifies the cultural building blocks that existed in the workshops and beyond their boundaries and the way they were connected to the institutions of the labour movement and the activities of its leaders. By focusing on industrial and political meetings that were held in the local streets, halls and hotels, as well as in the workshops and on their boundaries, the article shows how such working class cultural practices enabled workers to protect their working conditions and also enabled them and their families, neighbours and Labor leaders, to articulate and communicate shared values and aspirations. These practices, I argue, created an impression of a common class identity that drew on, co-existed with and at times subsumed, other sources of identity. It was through them that working class people politicised their grievances and pursued a better quality of life. For this reason, they provide an insight into the roots of labour's political culture in a specific urban context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-34
Number of pages24
JournalLabour History
Issue number79
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Working class
  • Labor parties
  • Labor
  • Workplaces
  • Labor movements
  • Neighborhoods
  • Locomotives
  • Labor history
  • Railway workers
  • Politicians

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