Mechanization in the Spanish merchant marine: sailors facing technological change, 1870-1914


  • Enric García Domingo Universitat de Barcelona



Mercanth marine, Technological change, Deskilling, Industrialization


The Merchant marine was one of the fields where industrialization had a radical impact not only economic and social but also on labour identities and cultures. The process of technological change was initiated in the early nineteenth century, accelerated in the 1870s and virtually ended in 1914. On the eve of the Great War the sailing marine was doomed to disappear or to become a residual phenomenon, not only in Spain but throughout the world. After a long time, almost a century, traditional and pre-capitalist forms of work and life had changed radically. How those changes did affected the sailors as a class and as a profession, since they represented the essence of ancient technological paradigm? The process of adaptation of sailing ships sailors to the new situation involved the acquisition of new skills and qualifications, and a change in labor identities. This paper presents and analyzes the mechanization of the Spanish mercantile marine from the point of view of the adaptation to technological changes by a professional category.


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