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The British Universities Industrial Relations (BUIRA) History of Industrial Relations Study Group invites you to a seminar with speakers Frank Tallett and Margaret Prior. 


4.30–5pm: Refreshments.

5pm: Welcome with Michael Gold and Linda Clarke (Chairs).

5.00–5.30pm: Margaret Prior – A Command under the Guise of a Command? Towards a Labour History of the British Armed Forces.

Service in the armed forces is not generally considered to be employment and British military personnel do not work under a contract of employment. However, they are in an employment relationship "because soldiering [is] an exchange of labour for pay, the army must be seen as an employer, its officers as managers, and its troops as workers, which opens the door to a labour history of the military" (Way 2000: 765).

This seeks to outline what that labour history might contain. Drawing together documentary and secondary evidence, it will highlight areas of both continuity and change in the British armed forces, with particular reference to pay, discipline and the expression of conflict.

5.30–6.00pm: Frank Tallett – Soldiering as work in early modern Europe.

This presentation builds on research conducted for a project organised by the International Institute of Social History at Amsterdam. It is not military history in the traditional sense, but instead aims to look at military service and warfare as forms of labour and at soldiers as workers. It will consider some fundamental questions about labour history in this context: to what extent mutinies can be seen as early forms of industrial action, and how far the ‘destructive’ activities of soldiers can be equated with the ‘constructive’ activity of work as undertaken by labourers.

The focus of the presentation will be on soldiers and land warfare, but navies and sailors will not be wholly neglected.

6.00–6.30pm: General discussion.

6.30pm: Close, followed by drinks.

Book your place

To reserve a place, please email Michael Gold at [email protected] or Linda Clarke [email protected].

About our speakers

Margaret (Peggy) Prior was a lay trade union activist and worked for both Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and the Transport and General Workers’ Union as an education tutor. Now a doctoral teaching assistant with Plymouth University, her research concerns the manufacture and maintenance of consent in the British armed forces’ employment relationship.

Frank Tallett was formerly Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Reading. His twin research interests are in the fields of early-modern military and religious history. He is best known for his publications War and Society in Early Modern Europe, and Priests, Prelates and People: a History of European Catholicism (with Nick Atkin). He also recently co-authored the Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Modern European History.