Urbanization, working class organization and political movements in Barcelona

Garcia, Maria Soledad

September 1983

Thesis or dissertation

© 1983 Maria Soledad Garcia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This is a study of urbanization in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan region of Spain. It explores the historical and contemporary conditions which shaped the characteristics of working class social and political organization within the city. The development of political movements are investigated in relation to the role of the state intervention in the urban economy and in relation to individual household economy strategies and class consciousness.

Barcelona's expansion as an industrial city is considered within the political economy of Spain. Immigrant workers incorporation in industry is examined in the case study of a large engineering factory, La Maquinista. The historical incorporation of immigrant workers into the urban economy is also explored through the analysis of individual and collective patterns of consumption of workers in three neighbourhoods of Barcelona: La Barceloneta, Vallbona and Ciudad Meridiana.

Among immigrant workers in Barcelona the family has been the main institution within which the household economy has been organized. Changing levels of subsistence has meant that household consumption has increasingly involved the acquisition of property which reinforces the family as an economic unity. This has meant that within the workers' families the traditional roles played by both men and women have also been reinforced. Experiences in work and living conditions among these men and women have determined their class consciousness and reasons for political organizations.

While lack of state provision of welfare services encouraged privatization of collective services among workers, fragmentary state intervention in Barcelona has proved to be important for the development of organized urban protests. Neighbourhood Associations co-ordinated with other political organizations (union and regional) have been decisive in the transformation of local power structures.

Department of Sociology, The University of Hull
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University of Hull; Social Science Research Council (Great Britain)
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