Shop Floor Citizens
Engineering Democracy in 1940s Britain
Production, planning, participation! Around these three objectives an unlikely alliance of reformers came together during the 1940s to challenge long-established norms of industrial and political life in Britain. The institution of Joint Production Committees in British engineering factories during World War Two represented the most substantial experiment in worker participation ever undertaken in British industry. Shop Floor Citizens explores the politics of this experiment and assesses its impact on factory life.
James Hinton's richly researched and engagingly written study rescues from obscurity the efforts of communist militants, trade union leaders, maverick industrialists and innovative civil servants to lay the foundations for a `developmental state': dynamic, democratic, rooted in a productionist culture of shop floor citizenship. In relating the story of a neglected campaign for industrial democracy, this new book breaks new ground in the debate about where - and why - Britain's post-war settlement went wrong.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
`James Hinton's important new study of worker participation in the British Engineering Industry in the 1940s makes a major contribution not just to the history of British industrial relations, but to our understanding of the Post-War Labour Government and of a tragic lost opportunity in the history of British Social Democracy. I warmly recommend it.' -- David Marquand, University of Sheffield, UK `The great merit of Hinton's book is that it tries to bridge the gaps between political, social and economic history by exploring the relations between popular movements on the shop floor and wider political and economic issues. . . this book should be read by all those interested in the 1940s, but also by anyone unhappy with the way so much twentieth-century history is kept in separate "social" and "economic" compartments.' -- Jim Tomlinson, The Economic History Review `This is a most timely book. . . Hinton has recovered the experience and strategic dilemmas of socialists with a unique vision of forging dynamic and increasingly democratic relationships between the factory, civil society, and the state.' -- Robin Pearson, Business History `Using a wide array of materials, many previously unpublished, he has examined the nexus between popular political culture and high politics in a clearer and more useful way than other recent texts on the same theme. . . One can hope that as the historiography of the post-war period unfolds, labour historians will follow up some of the fascinating questions Hinton has posed about the relationship between the working classes and the planned economy.' -- Stephen Brooke, Canadian Journal of History