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PhD's awarded 2009

Susan Aspinall

Nuture as well as Nature: Environmentalism in Representations of Women and Exercise in Britain, from the 1880's to the Early 1920s.

Supervisors: Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Mathew Thomson


Brooke Whitelaw

Industry and the Interior Life: Industrial ‘Experts’ and the Mental World of Workers in Twentieth Century Britain, 1900-1970

This thesis explores representations and discussion of the ‘interior’ life of industrial workers in psychological, medical, literary and sociological discourse published during the first half of the twentieth century. The attempts of amateur and professional psychologists, writers and sociologists to uncover, decipher and accurately represent the mental world of industrial workers is examined with reference to broader medical and psychological conceptualisations of the influences and effects that different types of labour exercised over the minds and bodies of individuals. Chapters completed so far have focussed upon industrial psychological, sociological and autobiographical literature from the period, tracing contrasting explanations and solutions for expressions of unease and dissatisfaction in industrial environments. Recent sections of work have ranged from discussion of ‘industrial misfits’ and ‘maladjusted’ workers in published industrial psychological literature during the inter-war period, to analysis of worker testimonies in industrial sociological studies such as John Goldthorpe’s post-war Affluent Worker series. Of central concern in my work, are the different ways in which specific groups of industrial ‘experts’ approach this issue of subjectivity, the reasons behind their interest, their preoccupations, methods, and the various obstacles and criticisms they met with in their attempts at observation, control and categorisation of feeling. The overall aim of this project is to illustrate and analyse contemporary debates surrounding how to study, understand and interpret emotional well-being within industrial contexts looking in particular at how such literature contributes to historical understandings of the relationship between work, material conditions and mental health in twentieth century Britain.

Supervisors: Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Mathew Thomson