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New Publication: 'Reluctant Modernization - Plebeian Culture & Moral Economy in the Basque Country' by Andreas Hess

Basque Country (A Hess)

Publication Date: June 2009
ISBN: 978-3-03911-908-0

Click here to purchase from Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Three institutions that are of particular importance to Basque history and culture form the main subject of this book: the baserria (the Basque farmstead), the cofradía (the fraternity of fishermen) and the txoko (gastronomic society). In this study the three institutions are seen as windows; once we look through these windows, we get an opportunity to see the larger picture – namely the structural components of a rich plebeian culture and moral economy. While the investigation of baserri culture provides insights into Basque rural life and the radical changes that occurred with industrialization, the cofradía allows the reader to see the connection that the Basque Country has with the sea. The third institution, the txoko or sociedad gastronómica, represents a more recent and urban phenomenon and reflects an effort to come to terms with urbanization and the anonymous forms of modern life. The book closes with some reflections on cultures that have been somewhat reluctant to modernize.

"Andreas Hess examines the ritualized contexts in which a culture shapes people’s basic definitions of lifestyle, identity and social allegiance. What sets apart this work is the combination of an almost ethnographic description of the Basque cultural institutions … and the proposal for a paradigm change in the study of current Basque issues by grounding the analysis squarely on political economy. The results go well beyond the Basque case." - Professor Joseba Zulaika, Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada


Chapter 1    Introduction: From the Critique of Basque Egalitarianism to an Understanding of Reluctant Modernization   1

Chapter 2   Defending the Home’: Moral Economy in the Rural Environment 15
2.1   The Baserria: A ‘Total Institution’ in Historical Perspective 17
2.2   Function and Crisis of the Traditional Baserria 34
2.3   Reluctant Modernization I: The Baserria as an ‘Exit’ Model of Moral Economy 53

Chapter 3   ‘Working the Waves’: The Brotherhood of Fishermen and Moral Economy 65
3.1   The Sea and the Harbour: A Short History of the Cofradía 66
3.2   Function and Crisis of the Cofradía 85
3.3   Reluctant Modernization II: The Cofradía as an Attempt to Facilitate ‘Voice’ 119

Chapter 4  ‘The Social Bonds of Cooking’: Gastronomic`Societies and Moral Economy 129
4.1   Origins, Historical Development and Geographical Distribution of the Txoko 129
4.2   Formal Organization, Social Context and Function of the Txoko 139
4.3   Between Homogenization and Differentiation: Basque Cooking and Culinary Culture 148
4.4   Reluctant Modernization III: ‘Commensality’, ‘Loyalty’ and Urban Forms of Life 155

Chapter 5  Conclusion: Reluctant Modernization, Plebeian Culture and Moral Economy in the Basque Country 161

Glossary of Basque and Spanish Terms 173
Bibliography 181



The Author

Andreas Hess teaches sociology at University College Dublin. His main publications include the authored books
American Social and Political Thought: A Concise Introduction (2000) and Concepts of Social Stratification: European and
American Models
(2001); and the edited books American Social and Political Thought: A Reader (2003) and (with Christian
Fleck and E. Stina Lyon) Intellectuals and their Publics: Perspectives from the Social Sciences (2009).

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