Blighted live: Deindustrialisation, health and well-being in the Clydeside region

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One of the most common definitions of health is that adopted by the World Health Organisation
(WHO): ‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely
the absence of disease or infirmity.’1 Elsewhere I have commented on some of the ways that
the long drawn-out process of deindustrialisation in the UK impacted on the body and affected
health.2 In this article I take this discussion further by drilling down to focus on and examine
in more depth one particular local region – the Clydeside area centred on Glasgow, Scotland’s
largest city. It was an area dominated by docks, textile manufacture, chemicals, iron and steel
works, engineering, shipbuilding, and coal mining with a long history of ill-health and
deprivation linked to levels of poverty, overcrowding and environmental pollution. The process
of plant, shipyard, steel works and pit closures associated with deindustrialisation undoubtedly
added a further dimension to what has become known as the unhealthy ‘Glasgow effect’.3 This
essay explores these connections, investigating how and why deindustrialisation affected
morbidity and mortality in the Clydeside region, as well as ‘social well-being’ (WHO). This
conversation has tended to date to focus largely around statistical data, especially the
epidemiological evidence.4 The methodology deployed here is to combine a quantitative
approach with a qualitative one, deploying personal oral testimonies to explore the embodied
meaning of job loss for this generation of post-war manual workers, 1945-2000.
Original languageEnglish
Journal20 & 21: Revue d'histoire
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Sep 2019


  • deindustrialization
  • Glasgow
  • Clydeside
  • health
  • unemployment
  • heavy industry


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