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Gabriel Brea-Martinez . Foto

Gabriel Brea-Martinez


Gabriel Brea-Martinez . Foto

Social reproduction and inequality in the Barcelona area, 15th-20th centuries


  • Gabriel Brea Martinez

Summary, in English

This thesis includes a compilation of four publications with a long-term perspective on the mechanisms of social reproduction and the general trends of socioeconomic inequality in the Barcelona area between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries. The familial mechanisms of social reproduction encompass economic, institutional, legal, political, and/or cultural mechanisms for maintaining, improving, and / or transmitting the acquired or inherited social positions or tangible and intangible assets. Such mechanisms are channeled through family influence by two main means, the intergenerational transmission or social mobility (from ancestors to descendants) and the intragenerational social mobility (of an individual throughout his / her life cycle). In this sense, social reproduction is interrelated with the levels of socioeconomic inequality existing in different historical contexts. The data used in this thesis was provided by the Barcelona Historical Database of Marriage (1481-1880) and the Sant Feliu de Llobregat Longituinal Demographic Database (1828-1940), both developed within the projects el 'Five Centuries of Marriages' y 'Tecnología e innovación ciudadana en la construcción de redes sociales históricas para la comprensión del legado demográfico' (XARXES) respectively. Among the most important findings in this thesis it can be concluded that the peindustrial intergenerational transmission of social status was indeed high, especially among peasants and artisans and mainly for the first children as would be expected in an Old Regime society based on an inheritance with the principle of impartibility. However, despite the fact that the hereditary system by definition was based on the inequality between siblings, there was not downward social mobility of non-heir brothers and sisters. In fact, non-heir females used to marry out the social group as a strategy, a fact that reinforces the importance of the family unit of the "casa" (house) in the Catalan agricultural societies as historiography pointed out. Nevertheless, during the industrialisation era, there are evidences pointing out that the single-heir inheritance system declined, due to a major social progression of non-heir siblings than heirs within the new occupational opportunities emerged. Accordingly, the influence of family in the social fate of descendants decreased over time but did not vanish, in contrast to what was argued by classical theories as the Modernization one, which also can be interpreted by the importance of the family strong ties in Southern European countries. Regarding the economic inequality, the long term estimation conducted across four centuries in an extensive geographic zone as the Barcelona area showed that inequality was indeed higher on preindustrial societies than in the industrial period. The reason for this would seem to be the preindustrial ordered social structure contributing to a more unequal society than the industrial one based on skilled and unskilled occupations. However, industrialisation brought about a new situation, where likely processes of proletarianization induced a new kind of inequality. Finally, the last conclusion refers to the interrelation between the role played by families and the economic inequality, which has been seen in this thesis that although the family importance in social reproduction, the social barriers between social classes were never broken throughout five centuries, an element that may be linked to the present concern about the decrease in social mobility in our societies.








Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona




  • Anna Cabré
  • Joana-Maria Pujadas-Mora


  • ISBN: 9788449083860
  • ISBN: 9788449083860