Work, Disability and Social Control: Occupational medicine and Political Intervention in Franco's Spain (1938-1965)


  • Jos Mart University of Castilla-La Mancha



Disability, Spain, Work, Francoism


Work was given an important position within the political programme of General Franco's dictatorship, which considered work to be a fundamental factor for economic development and a means by which the regime could exercise its power. Thus work became an essential, pivotal element on which Spanish social policy was organised. Disability, considered to be an obstacle to the correct performance of the work activity, arose as a phenomenon that had to be included in the general measures aimed at regulating and controlling the performance of the productive tasks. Proof of this can be seen in the steps adopted regarding health and safety in the factories and the recovery of victims of accidents that had occurred at work.

The aim of this article is to explore these interventions and use them to show how disability was used as a vehicle to implement steps aimed at disciplining the population as a whole. Using legislative documents, general and professional press and propaganda pamphlets as the main sources, this article shows how the discourse generated in relation to occupational medicine represented an essential route, not only for developing a medical model of disability in Spain, but also for exercising a specific form of biopolitics.






Special Issue: Disability, Work and Representation: New Perspectives