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Buying into Change

Mass Consumption, Dictatorship, and Democratization in Franco's Spain, 1939-1982

Alejandro J. Gómez del Moral

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 05/2021
Pages: 366
Subject: History
eBook ISBN: 9781496226303


Buying into Change examines how the development of a mass consumer society under the dictatorship of General 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, yet many aspects of it remain largely unexamined.Buying into Change incorporates mass consumption into our understanding of Spain's democratic transition by tracing the spread and social impact of new foreign-influenced department stores, of imported innovations such as modern mass advertising, and of consumer magazines that promoted foreign products. Initially, these enterprises backed Franco's conservative policies, and the regime in turn encouraged consumption in order to improve its image both domestically and abroad. Spain's new globally oriented commerce ultimately sold retailers and shoppers not just foreign ways of buying and selling but also subversive ideas. Imported 1960s fashions brought along countercultural notions on issues such as gender equality. And as Spaniards consumed more like their foreign neighbors, they increasingly viewed themselves as cosmopolitan and European and identified with liberal political conditions abroad, undermining Francoism's doctrine of national exceptionalism, thus laying the social foundations for democratization and European integration in Franco's wake.    


Alejandro J. Gómez del Moral is senior lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Helsinki.


"A groundbreaking study. . . . It is a sophisticated analysis based on a wealth of archival research that sheds light on the crucial role played by the mass consumer culture wrought with American dollars after the Pact of Madrid of 1953."—Aurora G. Morcillo, author of The Seduction of Modern Spain: The Female Body and the Francoist Body Politic

"Makes critical contributions to the historiography on twentieth-century Spanish culture and society, the history of consumption, Spanish business history, and the processes of reform in dictatorial regimes. It brings out the many paradoxes inherent in fomenting a liberal consumer society in a traditionalist dictatorship, developing an argument that both advances and modifies current understandings."—Sasha D. Pack, author of The Deepest Border: The Strait of Gibraltar and the Making of the Modern Hispano-African Borderland