Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Don Morrow


As a social history of deindustrialization in the Midlands (U.K.), this study explores how loss informed working-class conceptions of identity, culture, and community. By shuttering factories, disrupting social networks, defamiliarizing the landscape, and relegating thousands to the unemployment lines, deindustrialization marooned the Midlands working class in a world they struggled to recognize. Using oral histories to interrogate the ways loss informed everyday life, this study examines how the meanings attached to football transformed the sport into a metonym for the past. The dynamics and values specific to working-class communities are analyzed through the lens of four key working class relationships. Composing the fabric of reality, by dissecting relationships to the body, employment, sociality, and the everyday, this study illustrates how work organized and influenced life. Acting as a before picture to the trauma of deindustrialization, this study emphasizes football’s ubiquity in the lives of the Midlands’ working class. Dedicating attention to absence, automation, mergers/liquidations, and redundancies, this dissertation is also devoted to detailing deindustrialization’s destruction of the working-class community, leaving a landscape defined by absence, memories of football entangled with private histories of loss. The departed family members, workplaces, shops, and even smells continued to live on, as deindustrialization transformed football into a trace of the rich Midlands’ industrial heritage.