The State of the North Sea : Thatcherism and the Fossil Economy
Sammanfattning: This thesis is a historical study concerned with the impact of North Sea oil on British politics during the 1970's and 80's. Vast quantities of oil sedimented beneath the waves within the UK continental shelf – hundreds of miles of the north-east coast of Scotland – attracted oil barons and transnational majors to the hostile waters of the North Sea in the early 1970's. It was Margaret Thatcher's government – from 1979 until 1990 – that benefitted most from this boon. The billions in tax revenues bankrolled her radical political experiment, transforming the economy, confronting labour unions and recalibrating the political trajectory for Britain. Despite being foundational for the Thatcher project, engagements with the energetic dimensions of this era are scant, both within academia and broader political and popular culture; Thatcher herself failed to even acknowledge the importance of oil in her autobiography. What is missed by such a disconnect? This work intends to foreground the role of oil in a political and social history, to highlight a less-known environmental history in relation to an extensively documented chapter in British politics. Grounded in critical realism and engaging with a range of theorists that grapple variously with state- capital-energy relations, I will inquire into the ways that North Sea oil shaped British politics. The result intends to serve as a contribution to a critical history of the fossil economy that will inform interventions and strategies for contemporary climate politics.
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