From ESA – Strategies & Activities

Dirk Hofäcker
Edward Tolhurst
Christiane Schnell
Helena Hirvonen

Thesis Spotlights – Resistance to the Dominant Economic Discourses: Making Sense of the Economy from a Working-Class Neighbourhood

Issue 42: 1968 - 50 Years On Wed 28 Nov 2018 0

Anna Carrillo Arnal, PhD, USA

Email: anna.carrillo-arnal [at] fulbrightmail.org
Institution: University of Missouri – Columbia
Time: August 2013 to May 2018 (Defence date 7 December 2017)
Supervisor: Dr. Clarence Lo, University of Missouri – Columbia
Funding: Fulbright Scholarship and Graduate Student Support Grant (University of Missouri)

This study explores the way that working-class people contest dominant economic discourses and how they develop alternative explanations for their economic situation. It is based on qualitative interviews, participant observation, and archival research in an urban working-class neighbourhood of Spain. The findings are that the workers do not reproduce dominant economic discourses because there is an alternative economic discourse that has gained importance in the community. This alternative discourse, with a clear Marxist base, stands for workers’ rights and the welfare state, rejects cuts on the budget for social services and blames the national elites for the current economic crisis.

The dissertation analyses the three historical processes that produced this alternative discourse, (1) the neighbourhood movement for the improvement of the living conditions in the community, (2) the resistance against the Franco dictatorship, and (3) the workers’ struggle to achieve labour and social rights through the organised labour movement. The findings also reveal how the members of the community are socialised into this alternative discourse and how the discourse is used in the everyday life of the community to contest dominant economic discourses. The findings demonstrate that the very pro-worker economic discourse that allows workers to contest mainstream economic discourses constitutes a major element of demobilisation of the community. Finally, the thesis also provides important insights into the socialising role of neighbourhood organisations and workers’ unions and political parties, as well as an analysis of how Spanish urban workers understand social stratification.