Education, Work, Social Change in Britain's former Coalfield Communities. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 107-126.
This chapter is based on qualitative research conducted in Aber Valley, South Wales, which explores the employment experiences and relationships of a group of working-class men who rejected formal education in their youth. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews and visual methods, participants’ experiences and relationships with employment are, it is argued, influenced by community traditions and a working-class masculinity associated with stoicism, risk-taking and toughness. These two aspects led them to favour some, but not all, forms of manual employment, whilst also dismissing sedentary service sector employment and emotional labour. The appeal of manual employment was attributed to its physical nature, perceived health-related benefits and the participants’ awareness of personal well-being. The findings contribute to contemporary understanding of working-class men, employment and masculinity within the context of industrial change. They show some adherence to traditional cultural values associated with working-class masculinity, but also suggest some shift in participants’ perspectives on the gendered nature of employment in post-industrial Britain.