Citizens and Housewives: The Problem of Female Citizenship in Spain's Transition to Democracy


Radcliff, Pamela. 2002. “Citizens and Housewives: The Problem of Female Citizenship in Spain’s Transition to Democracy.” Journal of Social History 36 (1): 77–100. doi:10.1353/jsh.2002.0106.

Author: Pamela Radcliff


"Citizens and Housewives" explores the contradictions surrounding the emergence of new forms of democratic citizenship for women during Spain's most recent transition to democracy in the 1970s. Most Spaniards probably agreed that the traditionalist image of Francoist womanhood was anachronistic, but creating a new "democratic female citizen" proved to be a conflictive and ultimately unresolved process. In order to explore the dynamic space where female citizenship was being reconstructed, this article examines the role of women's housewife associations in the 1970s, both as protagonists and as discursive subjects. On the one hand, these associations provided an arena in which new citizenship practices could be forged. In particular, their members acted out a new model of the activist housewife citizen who defended consumer rights in the public sphere. However, as a discursive category, the housewife-citizen of these associations could not find a place in the transition. While women's "different" roles as mothers, housewives and neighbors provided an acceptable path into civil society under the Franco regime, the democratic discourse ignored the housewives' associations as relics, not vanguards. For the many Spanish women who were housewives, this discursive paradox offered no path into the new democracy. Instead of a clear entry to a democratic citizenship there were only contradictions and confusing messages.

Topics: Citizenship, Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Governance, Households, Political Participation Regions: Europe, Southern Europe Countries: Spain

Year: 2002

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