1st Edition

Working Class Experiences of Social Inequalities in (Post-) Industrial Landscapes Feelings of Class

By Lars Meier Copyright 2021
    176 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based on qualitative research among industrial workers in a region that has undergone deindustrialisation and transformation to a service-based economy, this book examines the loss of status among former manual labourers. Focus lies on their emotional experiences, nostalgic memories, hauntings from the past and attachments to their former places of work, to transformed neighbourhoods, as well as to public space. Against this background the book explores the continued importance of class as workers attempt to manage the declining recognition of their skills and a loss of power in an "established-outsider figuration". A study of the transformation of everyday life and social positions wrought by changes in the social structure, in urban landscapes and in the "structures of feeling", this examination of the dynamic of social identity will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology and geography with interests in post-industrial societies, social inequality, class and social identity.

    1. Introduction

    Part 1: Context: Spatial and Social Transformations

    2. Field Methods and the Local Context

    3. Transformations of Class

    Part 2: Senses of Place and Transformed Industrial Landscapes

    4. "Quite a Shame": Confrontations Between Workers Nostalgia and Optimistic Official Representations

    5. Class-related Senses of Place and Frightening Encounters with Haunted Workplaces

    6. Nostalgia and Practices of Resistance in Public Spaces

    Part 3: Community Transformations and Social Encounters

    7. Community Transformations I: The Nostalgic View of the Former Established

    8. Community Transformations II: The Non-nostalgic View of a Former Outsider

    9. Conclusion


    Lars Meier is Professor for Sociology and Social Inequality at the Institute for Sociology, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany.

    ‘Overall, Meier’s book nicely accomplishes his goal of showing how places are central to our identities, both the cities in which we live and the physical spaces in which we work. When places change, it forces us to reckon with those parts of ourselves that are connected to them, and these can evoke strong feelings. Working Class Experiences of Social Inequalities in (Post-) Industrial Landscapes will be of interest to those who are interested in work, place, emotions, and industrial restructuring.’ - Jill Ann Harrison, Social Forces

    ‘Meier moves beyond this and explores how the transformation of an industrial to a post-industrial city has impacted the industrial working class and their perceptions, as well as how they experienced social inequality in the course of this transformation by losing their power, status, social position and identities as a working class … Indeed, the ways the author presented and contextualised ‘class’ by going beyond the traditional dimensions, and analysing it through contested social positions, sources of common identification, and emotional efficiency are noteworthy dimensions to the new theoretical debate concerning class.’ - Bishnuprasad Mohapatra, Work, Employment and Society

    ‘This book is an invaluable theoretical and methodological contribution to studies of class and the effects of urban transformations on a sense of collective identity.’ - Markéta Doležalová, British Journal of Industrial Relations

    ‘Drawing upon theoretical work into emotions, nostalgia and the changing nature of class, Meier utilises biographical interviews to examine how working class people narrate their lives to illustrate the interrelationship between identity positionings and social interactions with general social and spatial interactions. Thus, the analysis offered portrays an interesting account of how workers narrate their past and the significance this has in the present … Such insights are useful when considering the diminished role class plays in contemporary social policy analysis (despite an interest in precarious work and poverty that predominately blight the lives of working class individuals, families and households). Especially useful is the illustration of the way in which social inequalities play out in complex ways within the physical locations in which people live, the histories and transformations that occur and the emotional impact this can have. Ultimately the text offers some useful insights into class and emotions as frames of analysis which may have use in debates around welfare and social policy.’ - Lee Gregory, Social Policy and Administration

    ‘ … a thoughtful and sensorial account of the reworking of feelings of class in this German city … Meier convincingly weaves concepts that address social inequalities dynamically … Overall, Meier’s book provides valuable insights into the connections between class, space, location, emotions, and identities. The book will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, cultural geographers, and anyone interested in memory studies, the study of emotions and work, gentrification processes, inequalities, and social transformations in post-industrial societies.’ - Vasco Ramos, Cultural Sociology