Scabs and Traitors: Taboo, Violence and Punishment in Labour Disputes in Britain, 1760-1871, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Scabs and Traitors

Taboo, Violence and Punishment in Labour Disputes in Britain, 1760-1871, 1st Edition

By Thomas Linehan


226 pages

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In its broadest sense, this book is concerned with the attempt by workers in Britain during the period 1760–1871 to engage in collective action in circumstances of conflict with their employers during a time when the nation and many of its traditional economic structures and customary modes of working were undergoing rapid and unsettling change. More specifically, the book principally focuses on the attempt by those workers favouring a collective approach to struggle to overcome what they felt to be one of the main obstacles to collective action, the uncooperative worker. At times during these decades, the sanctions directed by collectively inclined workmen at those workers deemed to have engaged in acts contrary to the interests of the trade and customary codes of behaviour in the context of strikes and other instances of friction in the workplace were severe and uncompromising. Stern and unforgiving, too, was the struggle between the collectively inclined worker and the uncooperative worker in a more general sense, a contest that occasionally took a violent and bloody form. In exploring the fractious and hostile relationship between these two conflicting parties, this book draws on concepts and insights from a range of scholarly disciplines in an effort to shift the perception and study of this relationship beyond many of the conventional paradigms and explanatory frameworks associated with mainstream trade union studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 1 Blackleg economics, 2 Tabooed persons, 3 Vows and sacred lines, 4 The call to arms, 5 Carnivalesque rituals, 6 Magic rituals and tabooed things, 7 Shaming and degradation rituals, 8 Retribution, Conclusion

About the Author

Dr Thomas Linehan is Lecturer in History, Brunel University. He is the co-editor (with John Roberts) of the Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics book series. His previous publications include Modernism and British Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan (2012), Communism in Britain, 1920–39: From the Cradle to the Grave. Manchester University Press (2007), British Fascism 1918–39: Parties, Ideology and Culture. Manchester University Press (2000), East London for Mosley: The British Union of Fascists in East London and South-West Essex 1933–40. Routledge (1996).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics

The series Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics has two areas of interest. Firstly, this series aims to publish books which focus on the history of movements of the radical left. ‘Movement of the radical left’ is here interpreted in its broadest sense as encompassing those past movements for radical change which operated in the mainstream political arena as with political parties, and past movements for change which operated more outside the mainstream as with millenarian movements, anarchist groups, utopian socialist communities, and trade unions. Secondly, this series aims to publish books which focus on more contemporary expressions of radical left-wing politics. Recent years have been witness to the emergence of a multitude of new radical movements adept at getting their voices in the public sphere. From those participating in the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, community unionism, social media forums, independent media outlets, local voluntary organisations campaigning for progressive change, and so on, it seems to be the case that innovative networks of radicalism are being constructed in civil society that operate in different public forms.  

The series very much welcomes titles with a British focus, but is not limited to any particular national context or region. The series will encourage scholars who contribute to this series to draw on perspectives and insights from other disciplines.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / General