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Professor Joseph Melling

BSc (Bradford), PhD (Glasgow)

Emeritus Professor

My research interests are the history of work, including masculinity and management in the workplace, as well as the history of health and illness at work and in society more generally. These research interests include the social and cultural history of insanity, health and illness in the dusty occupations, and the gender differences in the identification and treatment of ill health. Secondary research interests include the growth of white collar employment and trade unionism, including its impact on Labour politics during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Research interests

The development of business welfare and the impact of private company provisions on the evolution of state welfare provision since 1880; Popular and Labour politics in different parts of Britain; the growth of new forms of management in the last century; policies to raise labour productivity at the workplace; different forms of labour management in Britain and other countries, particularly supervisory management and workplace supervision; institutionalisation of the insane in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

I received Wellcome Trust funding for my research project on 'Mental Health and Institutional Care in the Twentieth Century' in 2009, and I am a member of the Peer Review College of the ESRC. 

Research supervision

  • History of health, illness and welfare
  • History of insanity and mental illness
  • History of labour and management at work including masculinity
  • White collar trade unionism and labour politics
  • Richard Acland and Common Wealth

Research students

  • Mary Hilson: the history of dockyard labour and gender in Plymouth
  • Mark Bufton, Productivity Politics in modern Britain
  • Pamela Dale, Mental deficiency and the Idiot Asylum at Starcross
  • Mike Anson, Railway labour in Swindon
  • David Pearce, The Exe Vale Mental Hospital in the Twentieth Century

Other information

Director of joint project with Alan Booth on 'Productivity and the workplace'.

Director of Wellcome Project on the History of Insanity in Devon, 1993-1996.

Principal Director of Medical Archives Project.


Senior Lecturer in Economic and Social History

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