Talk Six  – Contemporary Society

Ministry of Tourism had a controversial campaign in the 1960s entitled “Spain is different”.  Is Spain so different? 

History.  Isolation from European culture although it has been a channel of ideas.  Used as a rehearsal stage for wider conflicts.
Bullfighting – “la fiesta nacional” a blood-thirsty spectacle.
Easter – a strong, evocative, almost eery tradition.
Sevillanas  – part of the “image” of Spain sold in the 60s.

How is Spain really different?
Authority.  Seen as elite out of touch with people.  Cynicism and disregard for authority.  Not affecting everyday life.   Indifference.
Caciquism, corruption, bureaucracy.  Living with "shades of grey".

Individualism.  Lack of sense of “common good”. 
Pacifism.  Little interest in military intervention of any sort. Solidarity.  Demonstrated in the face of terrorism and disaster.
Regionalism.  Different characters.  Five co-official languages, industry, landscape, customs, gastronomy, history and regional pride.  Strongest regions are Cataluña and the Basque Country.  Political alliances can greatly influence national policies.
Family.  Mainstay of society.  Lack of welfare state,   98% put family before work, friends, leisure, religion or politics.  Link between generations.  Role of grandparents in childcare.  Spoiling of younger  generations – allowing them to do things we couldn’t do.  Maintaining traditions.  Role of women.  Advanced in theory.  Divorce, contraception, abortion, equality in work place.  Still take on two jobs.  Support other generations.  Substitute welfare state.  
Gender violence still seen as a major issue. 
Church.  Now secular state but church traditions very strong.  Still hold institutional power.   Very vocal against liberal measures - abortion, “education for citizenship”.   Opus Dei presence.
Social groups.  Amigos.   Young people - el botellón, housing problem, unemployment and drug culture.  Spain greatest consumer of cocaine in Europe.
 El bar.  138,000 more than rest of Europe.  Centre of local life.
Associations and NGOs. Less strong – few lobby groups.
Comunidad de vecinos.   Mini-democracy.
La calle.  processions, demonstrations, el paseo. 
Folklore.  Encouraged by Sección Feminina in Franco’s time. 
Law and order. Guardia Civil modernizing image and role.  Policia Local town hall based.  Also Policía Nacional.
Justice. Outrageously slow and outdated.  Judge Garzón.

“Two Spains”.  Genuine democracy but very confrontational. 
 Old and new – compare Carmé Chacón Minister of Defence.
Media.   Spanish are not great readers.  (Illiteracy rate 8% women and 2.5% men).  Important role of radio in political debate.  Regionalism of media, newspapers, TV and radio.
Popular culture.  Music – Spanish, Latin and international.  Gossip.  Prensa del Corazón.  Jesulín.  Bull-fighters are a kind of elite.  Duquesa de Alba.  Age 84.   Ana Obregón    Belén Esteban. 
International prestige.  Eurovision Song Contest 1968.  Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.   Rafa Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Pau Gasol, Fernando Torres.

Spanish character.   Live for today, love of danger, noise, spectacle, ceremony, gambling.  El Gordo biggest lottery in world. 
Immigration.  Over four million legal immigrants. Boost low birth rate. One in five children born to immigrants.  Concentration in Madrid, Barcelona and coasts.   Many inland areas only 3%.
Other social groups.  Gypsies - about half a million with own language and culture.  Guiris – that’s us.   “Sin-papeles”
Terrorism.  ETA responsible for over 340 civilian and 500 police and army deaths, including 19 children.  Ortega Lara.  Kidnapped for 18 months.  Miguel Angel Blanco.  Kidnap and murder one week later.  Spirit of Ermua.  Several bogus Ceasefires.  Last two victims – two Guardia Civil officers.  Mallorca 30th July 2009.

Regional Stereotypes.   Madrileños – arrogant, Catalans – mean, Galicians – obscure, Asturians – proud, Basques – hard living, Castilians- austere and serious, Andalucians – light-hearted and gregarious,  Valencianos – traditional, Murcians – thick.

“Typically Spanish”?   Traditionalist.  Independent.  Spontaneous.  Impunctual.  Loud.  Sincere.  Argumentative.  Peace loving.  Gregarious.  Tolerant.  Blunt.  Extrovert.   Lovers of family, village, town, region and country.  Lovers food – both eating and discussing.  Lovers of children.  Talkative.  Whole-hearted.  Generous.  Jealous.  Oblivious.  Not quick to apologise, or to take offence.  Superficial.  Bad listeners.  Opinionated. Pushy. Strong sense of decorum.  Able to discuss politics, religion and money openly.  Able to talk about death and grieve without inhibition.  Nocturnal.  Sociable. Excessive and exaggerated.  Disorganized.

And all that is without even mentioning their driving.

Items Selected

Your shopping cart is empty!

We accept payments via PayPal.  You do not need a PayPal account and can still pay with a debit/credit card.  Paying online with a credit/debit card via PayPal. This link opens in a new browser window.

Latest from the blog

  • Pagar

    If you have lived in Spain for any length of time you will surely be familiar with the verb “pagar” (to pay).  When you wish to pay for a drink[…]

    Read more...
  • Conducir

    “Conducir” means “to drive” and comes from the same root as our English word “conduct” although of course it has a different meaning.  “Conducir” is a regular verb in all[…]

    Read more...
  • Contar

    “Contar” is a verb with three distinct meanings.  The first is “to count” as in one, two, three, the second contains the idea of “depend” as in the phrase “cuenta[…]

    Read more...
  • Correr

    “Correr” means “to run”.  It can also mean “to hurry up” as you often hear parents saying to their children when they want them to get a move on: “¡corre,[…]

    Read more...
  • Volver

    “Volver” means “to return”.  It also means “to go back” and “to come back” which of course mean exactly the same thing anyway: just the English language complicating life again. […]

    Read more...

Sign up to the free Jane Cronin newletter

Go to top