Social situation in Spain
The harsh current economic situation in Spain – with a dramatic GDP decline and the loss of more than 3 million jobs in the last four years and presently 5,778,100 unemployed people – deepens a number of structural weaknesses in the Spanish economy and its labour market (OECD 2012, EPA, INE 2012) and has had profound social effects. While the unemployment rate itself is already alarming, unemployed people’s purchasing power has been eroded in the last decade (INE 2012). Therefore the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has increased by almost 1.5 million from 2007 to 2011 (SEPE 2012). Forecasts suggest that the situation is likely to worsen in the coming years (Fundación 1º de Mayo 2012). These trends have rendered it difficult for a large number of people to earn any type of income and to access necessary economic and social resources, so new strategies of social reproduction can be expected to develop in the sectors of the population hardest hit by the crisis (lower and middle-class households, youth, women, immigrants). According to existing research, the crisis-related strategies developed by different household types include “adjustment strategies” and “overtaken by the crisis” (Laparra 2010; Cáritas Española 2012). There is some research into the crisis, poverty and resilience, discourses and attitudes (Laparra and Eransus 2010, Cáritas Española 2012, Pedreño and Riquelme 2006, Serrano et al. 2012, Alonso and Fernández 2011).
Previous research results
However, there is little up-to-date qualitative research into the processes behind statistical figures. The Spanish RESCuE case studies put a specific focus on the “working new poor”, which include the “working poor” and the unemployed who have lost their jobs and entered poverty and precariousness. The “disqualifying poverty” (Paugam 2007) exemplified by these groups can affect previously integrated populations and “destabilise” stable workers (Castel 1997). RESCuE will compare the situation of these groups in two areas that differ regarding the availability of formal and informal jobs, access to social services and family and neighbourhood networks and other resources. A town belonging to wider Madrid will serve as the urban case study, with the remote region of La Mancha, characterised by above-average unemployment and poverty (growth) rates, and a diversified labour market with lots of informal employment in sectors like agriculture, the crashing construction business, food industry and tourism, serving as the rural case study. It can be hypothesised that resilient practices in La Mancha include informal labour and small agriculture as well as the use of family and neighbourhood networks.