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A Local Affair: Barcelona’s Municipal Schools and Recreational Activities in Late Francoist Spain, 1950-1975


This dissertation analyzes the institutional frameworks that allowed for alternative sites of socialization outside of the parameters of the Franco regime, 1939-1975. This time period has traditionally been characterized as an era of political, social, and cultural oppression in which the regime tended to focus on a conservative fascist vision that stressed a homogenous Spanish nationalism and discipline. By focusing on the city of Barcelona, the capital of the northeast region of Catalonia, this study challenges the established discourses that have suggested that citizens did not have “choices” under an authoritarian regime. Local elites in the city of Barcelona focused on social reform programs that targeted one segment of the population that had the potential to alleviate existing social problems: children. By using childhood as a category of analysis, the dissertation examines how Barcelona’s elites were able to maintain some autonomy in organizing their own community. The community of Barcelona, however, was neither homogenous nor horizontal. The elites sought to “civilize the masses” as part of a larger goal of improving and modernizing the city according to their own standards and values. Through the analysis of the methodological objectives and pedagogical approaches of municipal schools and recreational activities, this study examines elite socialization projects for children within this localist modernizing agenda. The result is a larger social reform program in which some of the most influential people in Barcelona were able to roll back restrictions placed on the city of Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.

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