Structure and agency in small scale production: an historical archaeology of the clay tobacco pipemakers of Kent.

Boyden, Brian
Structure and agency in small scale production: an historical archaeology of the clay tobacco pipemakers of Kent. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis presents a study of a Kentish industry based on small-scale production. Its focus is the workers making clay tobacco pipes. Although there are many surveys of clay tobacco pipes, few have commented specifically on the pipes made in Kent. My research is unique in that there has been no previous investigation of Kent pipemakers. While structuration theory provides the orientation of the thesis, it is helpful to develop this approach in ways that permit the separate consideration of the structures and agencies present in the pipe industry. Some structures require detailed consideration, for example the importance of kinship systems and the particular qualities of the market for pipes and of the nature of the pipes themselves. The agents, principally the pipemakers, are studied; their evolving doxa is considered, as is their changing comprehension of and response to the problems and opportunities they faced. Previous research in Historical Archaeology is reviewed – both of that using structuration and that looking at aspects of the clay tobacco pipe industry. The thesis makes a fresh interpretation and new application of structuration theory. Documentary material is employed extensively and critically. Particular use is made of Directories, Census Records and Probate Inventories. Evidence is also prepared from the interpretation of demographic and trade records. Biographic case studies are presented in order to maintain a focus on the workers and to take forward an understanding of their lives. Contacts between pipemaking families are revealed; some cross considerable geographical distances and others span several generations. The pipes themselves and artefacts associated with pipemakers are important in this study. A typology for Kent pipes is presented but this thesis moves beyond that to discover what pipes say about the social situations in which they were made. An assumption that pipemakers were always poor is questioned by the material presented here. Evidence is shown for the involvement of both genders in this industry in Kent. The thesis reveals that initially the workers in the pipe industry in Kent demonstrated entrepreneurial zeal and were quite prosperous. In many ways they are shown to be harbingers of the Industrial Revolution. However, the workers did not continue in this spirit. The ways in which pipemakers responded to competition are considered. The industry waxed and waned. This thesis shows why, in the late nineteenth century, the pipe workers in Kent saw their livelihood fail while some pipe entrepreneurs beyond Kent continued to trade successfully into the twentieth century. The lack of local large-scale industrial development and the degree of industrial isolation of Kent are suggested as explanatory factors. The thesis, whilst acknowledging the materiality of pipes and pipemaking, counterbalances previous pipe studies that emphasise typology with a more nuanced biographical approach placing people – the pipe makers – central stage.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-06 (completed)
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Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 13:00
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 02:13
DOI: 10.17638/02040919