A Social History of Modern Spain

A Social History of Modern Spain

A Social History of Modern Spain

A Social History of Modern Spain


Acknowledgements; Introduction A century of dynamism An evolving economy; Men, women, and children The land The creation of private property; Landowners; Rural social relations; Conflict Cities and towns Elites and white collars; Working class formation; Working class experience Identities The church, religion, and belief; The limits of the state; Communities The Franco regime and after A belated miracle; Men, women, and children; The land; Cities and towns; The church, religion, and belief; The extension of the state; The consumer society Conclusion Notes; Bibliography; Chronology; Index


Although this book is a social history, politics is at its heart. Political events set the chronology, from 1808 and the Napoleonic invasion which began the final disintegration of the Old Regime, to 1982 and the overwhelming electoral victory of the Socialist Party which confirmed the triumph of democracy following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975. Politics also determines the internal organization, with the Spanish Civil War as the dividing line between a long section on Spain from 1800 to 1936 and a shorter one on the period since 1939.

The book offers the social background to the two central events of modern Spanish history: the Civil War of 1936-39 and the democratic transition of 1975-82. Or to put it another way, it helps explain why democracy did not survive in the 1930s as it has done since 1975. I do not want to propose a social determinism whereby political forms are bound by levels of socioeconomic development. Politics has its own dynamic but questions of power, especially power in the state, cannot be autonomous of social relations and the conflicts they engender. Neither the Spanish Civil War nor the contemporary constitutional regime was inevitable but the differing social contexts of the democratic experiments of the 1930s and the 1970s and 1980s contributed mightily to the short life of the first and the longevity of the second.

This study has a second, but not secondary, major theme: in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Spain has been in the European mainstream. For most historians of modern Europe Spain barely exists in its own right; it comes into view only on those occasions when it served as the stage for broader European events, as a major theatre for the Napoleonic Wars and as the battleground for hostile ideologies in the 1930s. And too many people, Spaniards included, are willing to accept the description of Spain given by W.H. Auden in his poem Spain 1937 as 'that arid square, that fragment nipped off from hot/Africa, soldered so crudely to inventive Europe'.

There are a number of reasons for this but the most important has to do with the nature of historical concern itself. When history was limited to high

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