Solidarity on the Move: Imaginaries and Infrastructures within The People’s March for Jobs (1981)

Paul Griffin*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper revisits the 1981 People's March for Jobs as a moment of unemployed activism and solidarity in the UK. The paper argues that the march revealed a spatial politics of solidarity as characterised through mobility, presence, imaginaries and dialogue. It considers how the march emerged through trade union organising and forged political alliances in articulating opposition against rising unemployment, challenging the associated stigma around labour market inactivity. Contributing to geographical scholarship on ‘working-class presence’ and concepts of ‘imagined solidarity’, the paper explores the ‘solidarity infrastructures’ that enabled unemployed resistance. It considers material resources alongside a more generative and imaginary understanding of solidarity as fostered through the march. These more transitory and temporary forms of solidarity are meaningful in their immediacy, but also hold longer lasting impacts on both those involved and the places visited. In this regard, the combination of ‘imagined solidarities’ and ‘solidarity infrastructures’ provides geographers with an insight into the spatial dynamics of marching as resistance, as well as reflecting a wider resonance with trade union sensibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Early online date11 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Sept 2023

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