Class, Space and Community: A Workshop Conference was organized by the Sociology and Social Policy Department at the University of Durham on April 6–8th, 2001. Academics from a variety of disciplines were brought together to explore the social and cultural implications of deindustrialization on people and communities whose identities were once founded on industrialism and manufacturing. From the detailed accounts about individual lives, communities and regions, and the exact changes they have all been forced to undergo, a general story was told. That is, many areas have recently witnessed the rapid and complete elimination of their industrial bases with seemingly nothing left in their place. Today, the problems these areas face go beyond the matters of massive unemployment. There is also a sense of “folding in on oneself” as the community attempts to find new structures upon which to reinvent itself. “Soft outcomes” such as preserving a sense of pride, dignity and respectability were also shown to be significant to processes of social and economic regeneration. This story is true for places throughout the world. What was especially highlighted by this conference was the way in which an emergent international perspective on deindustrialization was reflected in the combination of very local descriptions of particular localities. Whether it be in Youngstown in Ohio, Consett, Sunderland, or South Shields in northeast England, Nowa Huta in southern Poland, Karhula in Finland, or in South Africa's East Rand, the impacts of globalization and deindustrialization are both real and present for us all today.
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