This introduction gives an overview of the key concepts presented in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book underlines the strong connections between politics, community and identity. In Britain many of the major debates on working-class and labour history involved discussion of the coal industry. If the more recent emphasis in labour history generally and in coalfield history specifically has been on the local, on gender, ethnicity and the discursive construction of class, the growth of comparative and transnational approaches to labour history has also been among the more noticeable innovations. Coalfields and coalfield societies have been represented in distinctive ways. Historians have become increasingly aware of the importance of 'place' in the development of political, cultural and social patterns. The comparative history of 'coalfield societies' has been taking shape slowly but surely over the last two decades. The construction of miners' identities, class-oriented or not, had a major impact on the shape of miners' communities and politics.