Buying into Change: Mass Consumption, Dictatorship, and Democratization in Franco's Spain, 1939-1982

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Buying into Change examines how the development of a mass consumer society under the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1939-1975) inserted Spain into transnational consumer networks and set the stage for Spain’s transition to democracy during the late 1970s. This transition is broadly significant to both a Spanish public still struggling to redefine their society after Franco, and to scholars who have long debated the origins of Spain’s current democracy. Among these origins, a dramatic midcentury embrace in Spain of foreign consumer products and practices was central to paving the way for democratic reform by undermining popular support for Francoism. However, this facet of the transition and of Spain’s recent history remains largely unexamined.
This book incorporates mass consumption into our understanding of Spain’s democratic transition by tracing the spread and social impact of new foreign-influenced department stores like Galerías Preciados, whose roots lay in early twentieth-century Cuban retail; of imported innovations such as modern mass advertising; and of consumer magazines that promoted foreign products like American appliances. Initially, these enterprises actually backed Franco’s conservative policies, and the regime in turn encouraged consumption – introducing American-style supermarkets in the 1950s, for example – in order to improve its image domestically and abroad.
Yet Spain’s new globally oriented commerce ultimately sold retailers and shoppers not just foreign ways of buying and selling, but subversive ideas. Imported 1960s fashions brought along countercultural notions on issues like gender equality, which undermined Francoist patriarchy. And as Spaniards increasingly consumed like their foreign neighbors, integrating into Western European commercial and social circles, they also began to view themselves and Spain as cosmopolitan and essentially European. This undermined Francoism’s doctrine of national exceptionalism and encouraged Spaniards to similarly identify with liberal political conditions abroad, laying the social foundations for democratization and European integration in Franco’s wake.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Nebraska Press
Number of pages321
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
MoE publication typeC1 Scientific book

Fields of Science

  • 5202 Economic and Social History
  • Spain
  • Consumption
  • Dictatorship
  • Democratization

Cite this

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title = "Buying into Change: Mass Consumption, Dictatorship, and Democratization in Franco's Spain, 1939-1982",
abstract = "Buying into Change examines how the development of a mass consumer society under the dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1939-1975) inserted Spain into transnational consumer networks and set the stage for Spain’s transition to democracy during the late 1970s. This transition is broadly significant to both a Spanish public still struggling to redefine their society after Franco, and to scholars who have long debated the origins of Spain’s current democracy. Among these origins, a dramatic midcentury embrace in Spain of foreign consumer products and practices was central to paving the way for democratic reform by undermining popular support for Francoism. However, this facet of the transition and of Spain’s recent history remains largely unexamined.This book incorporates mass consumption into our understanding of Spain’s democratic transition by tracing the spread and social impact of new foreign-influenced department stores like Galer{\'i}as Preciados, whose roots lay in early twentieth-century Cuban retail; of imported innovations such as modern mass advertising; and of consumer magazines that promoted foreign products like American appliances. Initially, these enterprises actually backed Franco’s conservative policies, and the regime in turn encouraged consumption – introducing American-style supermarkets in the 1950s, for example – in order to improve its image domestically and abroad. Yet Spain’s new globally oriented commerce ultimately sold retailers and shoppers not just foreign ways of buying and selling, but subversive ideas. Imported 1960s fashions brought along countercultural notions on issues like gender equality, which undermined Francoist patriarchy. And as Spaniards increasingly consumed like their foreign neighbors, integrating into Western European commercial and social circles, they also began to view themselves and Spain as cosmopolitan and essentially European. This undermined Francoism’s doctrine of national exceptionalism and encouraged Spaniards to similarly identify with liberal political conditions abroad, laying the social foundations for democratization and European integration in Franco’s wake.",
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