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Paintresses and potters: work, skill and social relations in a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, 1981-1984

Hart, Elizabeth Ann (1986) Paintresses and potters: work, skill and social relations in a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, 1981-1984. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis applies ethnographic description and anthropological interpretation to a British pottery factory. It shows that the workforce is highly differentiated and that there are diverse loyalties and interests within it; these emerge from differences in sex, training, age, skill, work group identity and in the production process itself. It elucidates the meanings for the pottery workers of work and skill, family and kinship, marriage and ritual, It shows that 'the factory' is divided not just by physical boundaries but by territorial, social, and moral ones. This study regards these distinctions as worthy of attention, and does not confine its observations to a single workshop. It shows that for these pottery workers work has economic, social and symbolic dimensions. Two different groups of pottery workers, paintresses and potters, are studied, who work at a medium-sized ornamental earthenware factory in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. Fieldwork was conducted in the period from early 1981 until late 1984. The study concentrates mainly, though not exclusively, on women workers. It does not assume that women workers are a group unified by their sex. In a review of the literature of industrial sociology and anthropology some of the assumptions commonly made in the study of 'industrial behaviour' are questioned. Detailed ethnographic descriptions are given of the working day of particular individuals. It is shown how these pieceworkers construct their working day, in order to exercise some control over it. Attention is also given to the nature of social relations within the workplace, to the interrelation of factory and family, to custom and practice, training and skill, and to the way ritual is used to extend the workers’ control over their working time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1986 Elizabeth Ann Hart
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
T Technology > TT Handicrafts Arts and crafts
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Woodburn, James and La Fontaine, Jean

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