This article examines how industrial restructuring has effected social transformation in terms of the type and meaning of work in the post-closure context of the South Wales Valleys. A conceptual framework is developed which considers a range of experiences within and outside the paid labour market. This theorizes social movement and stasis, and analyses the resources and priorities invoked in pursuing different types of work. Restructuring has weakened occupation’s role as a primary means of social cohesion in former coalmining communities, and labour market experiences have become more diffuse and dynamic. It is argued that while paid work remains important to some individuals, this overlooks the experiences of those excluded from or constrained in their economic activity. In order to understand these social solidarities it is necessary to employ less restrictive definitions of work, and examine the meaningful labour embedded in a more interconnected set of relationships and structures.