Dissertation Planning

Two days ago, I sat down and planned my entire dissertation. 

I’m using Rosenwein’s concept of ’emotional communities’ to analyse Liverpool’s dock community and how the emotional norms and values of this community shaped the course of the dispute in 1995-98.[1] Rosenwein argues that a shared set of interests, goals and emotional standards govern how people express their feelings and, in turn, this serves to uphold the core values of the group. So, I have created a structure that mirrors this entirely.

In this section I am discussing my literature review and methodology, mainly looking at the history of emotions, labour history, deindustrialisation and notions of class and gender. My main argument here will be that labour historians have focused on the relationship between agency and structure but have circumvented the ways in which emotions mediate this relationship. I also want to highlight the way in which historians throw around the term ‘solidarity’ and argue my own understanding of this.

Chapter One:
This chapter will outline the creation of a dock community in Liverpool and their core values. This looks into the collective memory of the docks, the history of working conditions and the lives of families who worked there. Hopefully, this will demonstrate exactly what solidarity meant to the dock community. I have separated men and women in this section as a key characteristic of this community is that dock work itself was a very male domain. The values I outline here are what governed emotional behaviour throughout the dispute.

Chapter Two:
This chapter builds upon the last by assessing the ways in which the values guided the behaviour of men and women during the dispute. Key emotions are repeated amongst the sources that I am analysing. This chapter will also analyse the different notions of ‘solidarity’ in terms of men and women within the community.

Chapter Three:
This chapter will assess the limitations of solidarity as an emotional community has a point of exclusion with people who clearly differ in emotional norms and values being placed outside the group.

This is a very simple outline, partly because I’m still working things out and partly because I want to keep my ideas to myself at this moment in time, but it makes me very excited to start writing up my analysis.

I’ll never be able to use the word ‘solidarity’ in the same way again.

[1] B. Rosenwein, ‘Problems and Methods in the History of Emotions’, Passions in Context: Journal of the History and Philosophy of the Emotions (2010), pp. 1-32. Available from: http://www.passionsincontext.de/ [accessed: 4th May 2016].


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