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A Social History of Spanish Labour

A Social History of Spanish Labour: New Perspectives on Class, Politics, and Gender

José A. Piqueras
Vicent Sanz Rozalén
Translated by Paul Edgar
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    A Social History of Spanish Labour
    Book Description:

    Focusing on organization, resistance and political culture, this collection represents some of the best examples of recent Spanish historiography in the field of modern Spanish labor movements. Topics range from socialism to anarchism, from the formation of the liberal state in the 19th century to the Civil War, and from women in the work place to the fate of the unions under Franco.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-040-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION. Traditional History and the New Social History of Labour in Spain
    (pp. 1-18)
    José A. Piqueras and Vicent Sanz Rozalén

    The social history of labour and labourers is currently in the paradoxical position of having defined the subject of study in all its rich complexity as never before – a fact born out by some excellent works – yet fewer and fewer social historians are working on the subject.

    In general terms, it has become a branch of history which is increasingly based on the examination of documentary sources, with up-to-date methodology and with the ability to resolve questions by means of analysing and recounting basic problems of the past of many social groups which are truly relevant in all pre-industrial and...

  4. Chapter 1 The Formation of the Working Class: A Cultural Creation
    (pp. 19-42)
    Manuel Pérez Ledesma

    To consider the working class as a ‘cultural creation’, as in the title of this article, is nothing new and it is certainly not a provocation. There is little need to mention that E.P. Thompson is responsible for the idea that all classes are a ‘social and cultural formation’, in other words a group of individuals who, despite having different professions and incomes ‘share the same set of interests, social experiences, traditions and system of values’. This formulation, and the corresponding definition of class as a historical phenomenon and not as an immutable reality – as an event and not as...

  5. Chapter 2 Women in the Workplace in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Spain: Methodological Considerations
    (pp. 43-63)
    Pilar Pérez Fuentes

    The changes that industrialisation brought about to the nature and meaning of work and the different ways in which these changes affected men and women have been the subject of study of a great many historians and the work of J. Scott and L. Tilly is undoubtedly the starting point in such a historiographic task.¹ The individualisation of working relations and the separation of the place of production from the home are features which characterise work processes in industrial society. These changes brought about profound transformations in the organisation of both the production and the reproduction systems of pre-industrial societies...

  6. Chapter 3 The ‘Hardest, Most Unpleasant’ Profession: The Work of Laundresses in Eighteenth-, Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Spain
    (pp. 64-91)
    Carmen Sarasúa

    In 1785, the Enlightened thinker Gaspar de Jovellanos was requested by the General Committee of Trade and Currency to report on the project to reform the laws regulating trade guilds which had ‘left work in few hands’ and, in particular, ‘almost entirely kept women from practising trades’. There was discussion about the possibility of enacting a law specifying the activities which women were allowed to do. Jovellanos was of the opinion that there was absolutely no need for any law because if women were unable to do a certain job due to lack of physical strength, they simply would not...

  7. Chapter 4 The Toccata and Fugue of the Urban Factory: Working-Class Conflicts and Work Discipline in Valencia, 1840–1880
    (pp. 92-105)
    Francesc A. Martínez Gallego

    In the 1860s, the need to mould the working classes, to adapt workers to the rhythm of work set by the manufacturing system, by large workshops and by new means of dividing work, was clearly visible in Valencia. It transcended the walls of the manufacturing centres – where it had existed for many years–and became the object of studies and dissertations by eminent jurists of the University.¹

    Such studies were limited to urban areas – to areas still within the city walls, which existed until 1865. The model put forward for workers in these cities was tough and conflictive and was...

  8. Chapter 5 Craft Work, Industry and Radical Culture in the Age of the First International
    (pp. 106-133)
    José A. Piqueras

    For most European workers, the decades between 1860 and 1880 represented a period of transition in terms of how they were organised and how their social and political aspirations were expressed. The founding of socialist parties and workers’ unions, coupled with the proliferation of labour and co-operative associations, friendly societies, educational and leisure organisations etc., meant that in general terms, the working class of the 1880s was organised in a way which, though restructured after 1918, lasted until the second half of the twentieth century.

    The First International (IWA) played an important organisational role in this process of change as...

  9. Chapter 6 ‘Resistance, Resistance, Resistance!’: Skills and Disputes in the Castellón Espadrille Industry at the End of the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 134-152)
    Vicent Sanz Rozalén

    ‘Resistance, resistance, resistance!’ A Socialist newspaper report of the meeting held in the bull ring of Castellón (on the Mediterranean coast) on the morning of 22 December 1901, organised by the Association of Espadrille Workers, echoed the workers’ rejection of initiatives aimed at reaching an agreement with manufacturers to end a ten-day-old strike.

    Aside from the heroic tone with which the editor wished to express the volatility of the moment and the greater or lesser emphasis than can be found in the reports of the various local newspapers,¹ the truth of the matter is that the strike paralysed the production...

  10. Chapter 7 Traditional Popular Culture and Industrial Work Discipline: Asturias, 1880–1914
    (pp. 153-175)
    Jorge Uría

    It is a well known fact that among the causes put forward to account for the lack of profitability of industries in Asturias (on the Northern Spanish coast) – and in particular the mining industry – one reason often quoted is the particular characteristics of a small workforce which performed badly and was, all things considered, an economic burden to this companies.¹ From the 1880s onwards, there began to be stronger evidence of this and steps were taken towards a meticulous set of measures designed to counteract the more negative aspects which affected the productivity of the labour force. Reports written during...

  11. Chapter 8 ‘Rough Characters’: Miners, Alcohol and Violence in Linares at the End of the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 176-196)
    José Sierra Álvarez

    The image of miners as naturally intemperate, violent, drunken and belligerent characters is practically a standard feature of any literature about mining during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century. Whatever the literary, ethical and political tendencies of the authors – from conservative romanticism to Darwinist naturalism and from social Catholicism to working-class militancy – a look at such literature from Spain and from other countries is enough to confirm how relentlessly that idea was repeated and to recall how deeply rooted this myth was in the social imaginary of the time.¹ It was...

  12. Chapter 9 Disputes, Protest and Forms of Resistance in Rural Areas: Huesca, 1880–1914
    (pp. 197-220)
    Carmen Frías Corredor

    This chapter aims to trace the disputes and the forms of protest and resistance that occurred in rural areas of Huesca (South Pyrenees), a province which was a paradigm of inland Spain, during the difficult years around the turn of the twentieth century. It aims to speculate both on the causes of the conflicts and on the circumstances and factors which surrounded and affected the protests. There is no need to mention the fact that the subject of protests and peasant conflicts and peasant movements in general has for a long time now increasingly been a subject of study,¹ and...

  13. Chapter 10 The Standard of Living of Miners in Biscaye, 1876–1936
    (pp. 221-240)
    Antonio Escudero

    This study is made up of three parts. First, I will make some comments on how standards of living are measured and on the optimist-pessimist debate. I shall then provide information on the standards of living of miners in Biscaye (province of the Basque Country) between 1876 and 1913, putting forward conclusions which do not shy away from the abovementioned debate. In the third part, the same will be done for the period between 1914 and 1936.

    Some economists maintain that income per capita is the best indication of wellbeing as it plays a fundamental role in determining happiness. It...

  14. Chapter 11 Republicans, Socialists and Anarchists: What Revolution Was That?
    (pp. 241-257)
    Javier Paniagua

    There was a time when people believed in revolutionary transformations. They thought that the order of things was going to change radically, that new political and social structures would come into being and that even human behaviour would change; all this to make way for new values, social models and systems of production. For a while, the students of 1968 in the United States, France, Germany and other European countries tried to change the world (‘Let’s have a revolution’ read the slogans on the walls of the Sorbonne). Many historians and political scientists have asked whether the events leading up...

  15. Chapter 12 The Civil War – A Class Struggle? The Difficult Task of Reconstructing the Past
    (pp. 258-273)
    Julián Casanova

    The question posed in the title of this chapter leads a discussion of the nature of the crisis that pervaded Spanish society during the 1930s. Over the last three decades, old and varied testimonies have been dusted off and many historians have attempted to explain the causes and examine the development of the conflict. Today, greatly improved access to primary sources allows us to take a different approach towards those events. Subjective views have given way to impartial interpretations and detailed regional studies have demonstrated greater interest in taking a more in-depth look at the key issues of the subject....

  16. Chapter 13 Subordination, Supplies and Mortality: The Montaña Catalana, 1939–1945
    (pp. 274-297)
    Joan Serrallonga

    One of the most important consequences of the industrialisation process in Catalonia was the division of the region into economic areas which are unique in terms of their configuration and their attitudes. This is the case of the units that make up the so-calledMontaña catalana, an area which includes the catchment basins of the Llobregat, Ter, Cardener and Freser rivers. A considerable number of industries took advantage of the cheaper hydraulic energy and set up industrial colonies which had a certain degree of selfsufficiency. Their workers were less conflictive, considerably cheaper and in addition, employers imposed working conditions which...

  17. Chapter 14 A Fundamental Instrument for Labour-Force Control? Reflections on the Vertical Trade Union Organisation of the Franco Regime
    (pp. 298-314)
    José Babiano

    Aside from official works, the first study on vertical trade unions appeared in 1976, the same year in which the Spanish Trade Union Organisation [Organización Sindical Española – OSE] was dissolved and its administration became part of the short-lived Institutional Administration of Socioprofessional Services [Administración Institucional de Servicios Socioprofesionales – AISS].¹ This study is, of course, Manuel Ludevid’s book. Four years later, a new work appeared entitledVertical Trade Unionism and the Composition of the Francoist State.² Both books, but especially the latter, can be considered pioneers in the study of vertical trade unions. What is more, they have undoubtedly had an...

  18. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 315-316)
  19. Index
    (pp. 317-330)