DOI: 10.3828/hsir.2023.44.8 ISSN: 1362-1572

A Sociological Imagination at Work: An Appreciation of the Contribution of John Eldridge

Tony Elger
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • History

The early experience of John Eldridge (17 May 1936 to 24 December 2022) in teaching adult classes and research in industry led him to appreciate the understandings and expertise of shop-floor informants, and to think critically about the unequal relations of authority and power that conditioned people’s working lives. His radical Weberian orientation to dispassionate research fused with his Methodist background to underpin a strong linkage between his scholarship and a commitment to social justice and peace.

Fully conversant with sociological research and theory, John explored the complexity and the variety of forms of conflict and accommodation in a distinctive sociological contribution to the debate on the character of workplace industrial conflict in the 1960s and 1970s, and the centrality of analyses of contested cultures, power relations and control strategies in the organization and evolution of industrial enterprises. Later, this formed the basis for a systematic investigation of media bias in industrial relations reportage. He also explored the contested issue of ‘industrial democracy’. John’s essays for Historical Studies in Industrial Relations revisited key researchers and texts in the sociology of work and industrial relations, and highlighted their continuing relevance for understanding our world.