The People of the Plain: Class and Community in Lower Andalusia

The People of the Plain: Class and Community in Lower Andalusia

The People of the Plain: Class and Community in Lower Andalusia

The People of the Plain: Class and Community in Lower Andalusia

Synopsis

Diverging from previous ethnographic studies of Spain that have limited themselves primarily to tiny mountain villages, Gilmore focuses on class relations and traditional culture in Fuenmayor, an Andalusian farming town of 8,000, to provide a greater understanding of complex societies. Unlike studies focused on homogeneous villages, Gilmore's study depicts a rural life characterized by class antagonism, political polorization, and occasional violence. As an ethnographic study of a single community, The People of the Plain breaks new ground by exploring the relationship beween class conflict, political regression, and traditional culture in a modern complex society. At the same time, it provides an engaging view of Andalusian rural life in the twilight of the Franco regime.

Excerpt

This book describes the class structure of a rural town in southern Spain in the twilight of the Franco regime. the study shows how this class structure took shape in the nineteenth century and how it was perpetuated without change in the twentieth by the external pressures brought to bear by the Franco state. Since the fieldwork took place and this book was begun, fundamental changes have occurred in Spain. Franco died in 1975, and most political parties were legalized the following year, the Communists in 1977. Consequently, many overt conditions of repression and authoritarianism described for the early 1970s no longer hold. For example, the government-controlled "vertical" trade syndicate is gone; the Communists and other dissidents can now organize openly. Most men and women are no longer afraid of speaking their minds.

Nevertheless, political change after Franco's death has affected conditions in the pueblo only in superficial ways. Many of the basic economic problems faced by the people in 1973 still persist, some in exaggerated form. the ancient curse of seasonal unemployment is actually worse today than it was in 1973, partly because of the north European economic recession, which has curtailed external emigration. the related phenomenon of massive migration to Madrid, Barcelona, and other Spanish cities continues unabated. Municipal political reform had not yet taken place by 1978, although the workers and peasants await it eagerly. Meanwhile, the old system is simply being allowed to collapse undirected under its own weight. Most importantly, the land . . .

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