‘Going Underground’: A Tube Worker’s Experience of Struggles over the Frontier of Control

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Bangor University
  • London Underground Ltd


Mainstream media representation of London Underground (LU) workers typically foregrounds their alleged militancy, greed and negligence towards the travelling public. This knee-jerk tendency obscures the voices, expressions and experiences of workers themselves. This article enriches public sociology by giving Stephen, a Tube driver and former LU station worker, a platform to share his vivid story. Stephen’s voice reveals deep sociological insights into the realities of workplace struggles over the shifting ‘frontier of control’ at LU, and graphically captures uneven and fluid patterns of individual/collective resistance to restructuring and ‘modernization’. His lived experiences of managerial control and worker autonomy, interfacing with different degrees of alienation, new technology and customer engagement, have changed over time as ‘passengers’ become ‘customers’ and ‘give and take’ employment relations dwindle.


Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment & Society
Early online date19 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2018


  • disputes , frontier of control , London Underground , modernization , resistance , unions