Clientelism, politics and the press in modern Spain : the case of the Godó family and the founding of 'La Vanguardia'
Title: Clientelism, politics and the press in modern Spain : the case of the Godó family and the founding of 'La Vanguardia'
Author: DALMAU PALET, Pol
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This thesis investigates the links between politics and the press during the crisis of the liberal state in Europe. During the 19th century, one of the biggest challenges facing the liberal state was how to give voice to local concerns. In countries with a centralised state-model and where liberal principles coexisted with other forms of authority that originated in the Old Regime, local elites (or notables) emerged as intermediaries between the state and the territory. However, while the literature has emphasised that these elites secured their position via patron-client relationships, little is known about how they also used the public sphere as a way to reinforce their legitimacy. Focusing on the press as one of the strategies used by elites to secure their advantaged position in society and embrace new spheres of influence, this thesis will focus on the Godó family, a dynasty of politicians, manufacturers and press proprietors who founded what is Spain's oldest (still active) newspaper and Barcelona's top-selling paper today: La Vanguardia. Divided into three parts, the thesis will first examine the role of newspapers in political systems where clientelism was the main means of distributing public office. The case of the Godó family and La Vanguardia is used to throw light on this, and on the importance of transnational media transfers in transforming the newspapers' raison d'être. The second part explores how the Godó family tried to engineer public opinion to advance their private agenda during the colonial wars in Morocco and Cuba. The family underwent a serious reversal of fortune in the early 20th century, when the demise of the Spanish empire and the ensuing climate of national introspection led journalists to be accused of wilfully misguiding the public and denounced as collaborators in the corrupt regime of elections. Yet contrary to the downfall of the notables narrative, which sees the demise of Europe's traditional elites as the outcome of the crisis of liberal politics, this thesis shows that elites had a wide room for manoeuvre to maintain their influence in the new mass society. The final part of the thesis examines the strategies the Godó family designed to adapt to this new scenario, and the function that the press played in them. Drawing on the emerging field of media history, the interdisciplinary perspective adopted here will redress the traditional lack of dialogue between historians and media scholars, providing a novel perspective on the crisis of liberalism in Europe – where press editors are interpreted as political actors, and changes in communicative channels are understood as intricately connected to changes in the nature of power.
LC Subject Heading: Godó family; Press and politics -- Spain -- History -- 19th century; Press -- Spain -- History -- 19th century; Spain -- Politics and government -- 19th century
Defence date: 28 September 2015; Examining Board: Professor Bartolomé Yun Casalilla, EUI/Universidad Pablo de Olavide; Professor Lucy Riall, EUI; Professor Isabel Burdiel, Universitat de València; Professor Renato Camurri, Università degli Studi di Verona.
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