class

class
   In a 1993 survey of 8,500 people carried out by the Fundación FOESSA, 99.5 percent of respondents were prepared to ascribe themelves to a given social class, despite the fact that as many as 27 percent expressed the view that Spain is no longer divided into classes. It seems that perception of social stratification is still present, albeit in an attenuated form. In Spain social class is seen to be governed not only by the traditional criterion of origins (the class of one's parents) but increasingly by education and occupation. Mode of speech, which in some societies can be an important differentiating criterion, is of comparatively little relevance in Spain, where speech distinctions are much more geographical than social. Class mobility in Spain over the past thirty years has been marked by mesocratization, and specifically by the shift from working class to middle class status. At the start of the 1960s most sociological measures put the working class at about 60 percent of the population; latest estimates put it at below 40 percent, with some as low as 30 percent. In the 1993 survey carried out by the team from the Complutense University of Madrid led by Professor Amando de Miguel and contained in the 1995 report, the results for subjective (ie. self-positioned) social class were: upper and upper middle 9 percent; middle 57 percent; lower middle and working class 34 percent. Furthermore, identification with the lower class is far more common among older people than among younger people: 49 percent in the 65 plus category compared to 24 percent in the 18–29 category. Although the bulk of respondents believe they have stayed in their original class, 7 percent believe they have moved to a lower class and 21 percent to a higher class (17 percent moving from lower to middle class). Spanish society appears today to be much more homogeneous than thirty years ago. Apart from the obvious factor of a more even distribution of the country's wealth (see also national income) helping to ensure a more comparable lifestyle, the fundamental factors promoting mesocratization have been economic development, urbanization, tertiarization and access to secondary and higher education. Spain has moved rapidly from a predominantly agrarian economy and rural society to a highly urbanized society and service economy, and this has been accompanied by a massive transfer of population from countryside to major towns and cities. The agricultural sector has gone from being the largest work provider by a very considerable margin in 1960 to being the smallest by far. The secondary sector has barely changed at all (although its share of employment increased up to the mid-1970s and decreased after that). The services sector meanwhile has doubled its importance for employment, and not only because of the expansion of tourism, but much more through the expansion of services provided by the state following the implantation of democracy and regional autonomy. By far the biggest increase in tertiary-sector jobs has been in public administration, sanitation, education and health. Alongside the loss of jobs in agriculture as a result of mechanization, in industry as a result of recession and restructuring, and in certain traditional servicesector areas such as transport, repairs and domestic services, has to be placed the creation of jobs which had till recently been the preserve of the middle classes. What has made it possible for the children of lower class urban immigrants to gain access to these middle-class jobs has been the huge increase in educational enrolments in the 1970s and 1980s, of which the concentration of population in urban centres was a prerequisite.
   Thus between 1960 and 1980 there was an eightfold increase in secondary education and a fourfold increase in higher education. In the previously mentioned survey, 47 percent who had gone to university had a father who had only been to primary school, suggesting that Spain's economic development has been especially beneficial to those whose parents had had little education. It has therefore been the improvement in the educational level of the country that has made it possible for new generations of young people from working class origins to aspire to non-manual occupations. This applies to both sexes, but dramatically so to women. Thus we can observe that between 1970 and 1990 the proportion of employed women with secondary qualifications increased by a factor of ten, and those with university qualifications by a factor of eleven. Not only are occupation and educational level the two most frequently used criteria in the objective measure of social class, but furthermore there is a strongly positive correlation between educational level and subjective social class: the higher the level the more marked the tendency to place oneself in the middle or upper classes, and conversely the lower the qualification the more marked the self-ascription to a lower class. Indeed the correlation between level of education and selfdeclared social class is stronger even than that between occupation and class. It is interesting to note in this regard that the upward social mobility father-to-son is surpassed by that of mother-to-daughter, a clear indication of the greatly increased participation rate of women in education and the effect of this on perceived social class.
   To these essential factors bringing about social change—economic development, rural exodus, tertiarization, education (especially of women) — has to be added the equalizing effect of an urban youth culture that emerged at a time of liberation following the end of the Francoist dictatorship and which showed itself to be a good deal less class-conscious and deferential than the culture of its elders, as well as displaying a more homogeneous lifestyle in its leisure activities and public comport-ment. Such factors, together with the role of television in promoting greater homogeneity of interests, attitudes and tastes, remain unquantifi-able. But the near universal replacement of the polite form of address, usted, by the familiar form, , is an interesting manifestation of social equalization.
   Further reading
   - De Miguel, A. (1995) La sociedad española 1994-95, Madrid: Universidad Complutense (sociological series based on yearly survey; also relevant are the 1992–3 and 1993–4 reports based on 1991 and 1992 surveys).
   - Longhurst, C.A. (1995) "Calculating the Incalculable: Reflections on the Changing Class Structure of Contemporary Spain", Journal of the Association for Contemporary Iberian Studies, vol. 8, 2: 2–18 (an attempt to explain and re-calculate social classes in Spain).
   C. A. LONGHURST

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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