Labour History Review

'The Struggle for the Streets': Unemployed Hawkers, Protest Culture and Repression in the Barcelona area (c. 1918–1936)

Labour History Review (2008), 73, (1), 19–38.

Abstract

This article assesses street trade by unemployed workers in the Barcelona area in the years immediately before the start of the Spanish civil war. This practice, along with official responses to it, tell us a lot about the repressive nature of the state, as well as highlighting sharp social conflicts between commercial sectors and the unemployed during this period. Equally, the experience of the street traders, who were embraced by the anarchists as a sector from within the dispossessed, provides us with an example of the flexibility of anarchist mobilising strategies. Initially, it might seem incongruous that anarchists should defend a form of trade, which, along with the state, was seen by the anarchists as a major scourge of humanity. However, the street traders and their readiness to assert their right to the streets provided the anarchists with a radicalised social constituency.

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Author details

Ealham, Chris