Fox, Alan

First name/s: Alan
Last name: Fox
Known names / nicknames:
Date of birth: 23/01/1920
Year of birth: 1920

Life before Ruskin

Date and place of birth: 102 Goldsmith Avenue, Manor Park, London, on 23 January 1920

Family: Son of Walter Henry Fox, a journeyman typewriting machine enameller and his wife, Rhoda, née Rous

Work: Fox left school at 14 in the 1930s and first worked as a laboratory assistant at an east London grammar school, later becoming a factory worker at a plant making photographic film. Between 1939 and 1945, he was a ground staff photographer for the RAF in India and Burma, and later an aerial photographer for the No. 3 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit. After WW2, Fox worked for the Forestry Commission.

Politics/trade union activity: Unknown

Trade Union membership (at time of entry to Ruskin)

Life at Ruskin

Dates at Ruskin: 1947–1948

Source of funding: Unknown

Campaigns/political activity: Unknown

Subjects studied at Ruskin: Economics and political science

Dissertation: Unknown

Qualification: Diploma in economics and political science (awarded distinction)

Life after Ruskin

Education: Fox studied philosophy, politics and economics at Exeter College, Oxford, 1948–1950. He became a research student at Nuffield College, Oxford, in 1950, completing also a BLitt thesis on the history of industrial relations in the Black Country.

Work: In 1950, he took up a lectureship at Ruskin College (combined with study at Nuffield), and was then commissioned to write a history of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, published in 1958. Later, he was appointed to a research fellowship at Nuffield College to work with Hugh Clegg and A F Thompson on a history of British trade unions; the first volume of this appeared in 1964. In 1963, Fox moved to a lectureship at Barnett House (Oxford University’s department of social and administrative studies), where he stayed until retirement. After this, he worked voluntarily in Oxford’s Oxfam bookshop.

Politics/trade union activity: As a theorist of industrial relations, he worked initially within a conflict paradigm, validating trade union assertion from a pluralist position.  He published ‘A Sociology of Work in Industry” in 1971, one of a series of books under the general heading of Themes and Issues in Modern Sociology edited by Jean Floud and John Goldthorpe.

Later, ‘[i]n a series of publications, between 1973 and 1974, he exposed what he saw as the ideological nature of pluralism, which legitimised the unequal relationship between hired labour and capital, and reinforced the status quo. He had converged on a Marxist position, though this did not imply an endorsement of Marxist politics’ (Topham 2002). In his obituary of Fox (ibid), Tony Topham notes his description of Thatcherism as ‘seeking to “make greed respectable, to reduce the extent to which men and women feel to be one with another in our shared social experience; to reverse the long-term trend towards social provision … to ridicule and downgrade the language of compassion; and to redistribute income and wealth from poorer to richer.”

Family: Fox married Margaret Bessie Dow (1929–2007) on 19 August 1950. Margaret was studying modern languages at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and became a tutor at Ruskin and Oxford Polytechnic. They had two sons, Stephen (1954) and Andrew (1956).

Place & date of death: John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, on 26 June 2002

Date of death: 26/06/2002
Year of death: 2002

Achievements / Publications

Fox was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) at the close of WW2.

Fox A. (1966), Industrial Sociology and Industrial Relations, Research Paper 3, Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers’ Associations, London: HMSO.

Fox, A. (1971)  ‘A Sociology of Work in Industry. One of a series of books under the general heading of Themes and Issues in Modern Sociology edited by Jean Floud and John Goldthorpe.

Fox A. (1973), ‘Industrial relations: A social critique of pluralist ideology’, in Child J. (1973) Man and Organization: The Search for Explanation and Social Relevance, London: Allen & Unwin.

Fox A. (1974), Beyond Contract: Work, Power and Trust Relations, London: Faber & Faber.

Fox A. (1985), History and Heritage: The Social Origins of the British Industrial Relations System, London: Harper Collins.

Fox A. (1990), A Very Late Development, Coventry: IRRU.

Material in archives or already published articles

Topham T. (2002), ‘Alan Fox’, Guardian, 6 August 2002, available at http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/aug/06/guardianobituaries.highereducation [accessed 24 November 2002].

Image


Notes on Image/s

Comment of contributor/s and sources

Halsey A. H. (2009), ‘Fox, Alan (1920–2002)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, available at http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/77054 [accessed 23 November 2013].

Topham T. (2002), ‘Alan Fox’, Guardian, 6 August 2002, available at http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/aug/06/guardianobituaries.highereducation [accessed 24 November 2002].

Author/s

Carolyn Smith

created 08/11/2013 at 3:28 pm, updated 27/11/2014 at 3:42 pm

One thought on “Fox, Alan

  1. Roger Why

    Alan also published ‘A Sociology of Work in Industry” in 1971, one of a series of books under the general heading of Themes and Issues in Modern Sociology edited by Jean Floud and John Goldthorpe. I knew Margaret better than Alan because while I was at Ruskin (1965-67) she taught me conversational French. when we arrived we were all encouraged to learn a language in addition to our main field of study, I think French, German and Russian were the choices, but most people dropped out very quickly. I stuck with Margaret and I still remember fondly our one to one conversations, me struggling and she fluent – and that didn’t change much

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 + 15 =