Tom Wilson holds a first-class Honours degree in Sociology and Criminology from the University of Kent, and a MA Sociology (with distinction) from The University of Manchester. During his undergraduate studies, Tom’s dissertation offered insight into the appropriation of public space during private 3rd party take over, with a case study of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London. For his Masters degree, Tom produced a dissertation adopting the micro-sociologic concept of personal communities to explore the impact of Covid-19 on levels of informal social capital. Tom will begin his PhD at the University of Kent in September 2022. His study focuses upon exploring sustainable industrial culture within the deindustrializing district of the Chatham Dockyards in Medway, England – an area that has undergone extensive deindustrialisation since 1980. Tom’s attention will be on the remaining industrial zone of the dockyard which has come under threat from proposed waterfront housing development, likely seeing the eradication of c800 industrial jobs from the area and the permanent loss of a vibrant industrial area. The project examines the nature and status of industrial culture in the Chatham-Medway region and looks at generational reproduction of work identity. Tom will be supervised by DePOT affiliate Tim Strangleman.


Sustainable Industrial Culture in a Deindustrialising District

This three-year PhD project examines work, work cultures and the meaning of industrial identity in the early 21st century. Chatham Dockyard, in the Medway local authority area is all that remains of a much larger dockyard, ship building and repair area dating back to the 1600s when the Admiralty created its Royal Dockyard.  From these beginnings the area developed into a huge industrial site focused on ship construction and allied heavy industry.  The Royal Dockyard employed thousands of workers at its peak but was closed finally in 1984.  Much of the historical now forms part of a world heritage site. The remaining industrial part is currently home to c800 industrial jobs of various descriptions with pay wage rates significantly above regional and national averages.  The site’s owners have proposed the development of the site for housing which would mean the loss of the industrial jobs and a diverse industrial manufacturing area.  This PhD project explores both the current employment on site and charts the campaign to save the Dockyard. It will involve interviewing management and shopfloor staff to understand work identity and meaning in the area in the early 21st century and examine how this identity has its roots in the local area. The project uses a mix of interviews, ethnography, focus groups, visual methods and archival work. It will examine the champaign to save jobs in the context of wider processes of deindustrialisation.