Picket Line Perspectives


23 February 2018 marked the beginning of an historic fourteen day strike action across the UK, as university lecturers, staff and students organised in solidarity against proposed cuts and changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). These changes would see an end to guaranteed pension benefits, leaving individuals exposed to the risks of stock market investment and a substantial decrease in projected pension income. The strike, organised by the University and College Union (UCU), has seen vibrant picket lines across the country, and has sparked an important conversation about the increasing marketisation and corporatisation of the university.

We asked scholars for suggestions of books, articles and digital content that could help us put larger debates about pensions, fair pay and retirement into historical perspective:


Robin Blackburn, Banking on Death or, Investing in Life: The History and Future of Pensions. (London: Verso, 2006).

Lynn A. Botelho and Pat Thane, Women and Ageing in British Society since 1500. (London: Pearson Education, 2001).

Leslie Hannah, Inventing Retirement: The Development of Occupational Pensions in Britain. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Paul Johnson and Pat Thane (Eds), Old Age from Antiquity to Post-modernity. (London: Routledge, 1998).

John Macnicol, Neoliberalising Old Age. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

John Macnicol, The Politics of Retirement in Britain, 1878-1998. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Kirk Mann, Approaching Retirement: Social Divisions, Welfare and Exclusion. (Bristol: Policy Press, 2004).

Chris Phillipson, Capitalism and the Construction of Old Age. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1982).

Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1996).

Pat Thane, The Long History of Old Age. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2004).

Pat Thane, Aging and the Economy: Historical Issues.  (London: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 1984).

Pat Thane, Old Age in English History: Past Experiences, Present Issues. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).


The Pensions Archive: Preserving Pensions History for the Future. Part of the London Metropolitan Archives, supported by The Pensions Archive Trust, a registered charity.


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