Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Carmen Moreno-Nuño


The collapse of the real estate bubble in 2008 brought an economic crisis that began to spread throughout the world, and Spain was one of the countries most negatively impacted. During the Great Recession, the governments of PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) and PP (Partido Popular) didn’t present viable solutions to end the crisis. Instead, they enforced drastic economic cutbacks. Meanwhile, the governments subsidized the banks to rescue them; in theory, to save the Spanish economy. However, the Spanish population continued to suffer the effects of economic crisis. Writers and filmmakers used their work to call attention to the negative effects of the crisis on Spanish society, as well as to criticize and denounce the lasting social problems that it caused. This dissertation analyzes eight such works of literature and film that demonstrate the precarious lives of Spanish citizens who confront the impact of the financial crisis in Spain in various ways. First, it examines the novels Ejército enemigo (2011) by Alberto Olmos, La trabajadora (2014) by Elvira Navarro, and El comité de la noche (2014) by Belén Gopegui. Then, it explores the documentaries En tierra extraña (2014) by Icíar Bolláin, and Españoles en el exilio (2017) by Rubén Hornillo. Finally, it studies the fictional films Ayer no termina nunca (2014) by Isabel Coixet, Terrados (2011) by Demian Sabini, and Murieron por encima de sus posibilidades (2014) by Isaki Lacuesta.

This dissertation argues that many of the characters in these cultural products belong to a new social class that Guy Standing, among others call “the precariat.” While much work has been done to study the economic crisis in Spain and critics have examined the numerous cultural products that were born out of the crisis, few have focused their analysis through the lens of the precariat. By combining the paradigms of Cultural Studies and Neomarxism, this dissertation demonstrates how the works analyzed focus on the precariat as victims of the capitalist system, and the ways of dealing with their precarious lives, so close attention is paid to their life stories and the actions that they carry out. It examines how political activism and collective actions can bring change in a system of global capitalism and confront neoliberal policies. Finally, it proposes that these works have an ultimately pedagogical function, raising awareness among readers and viewers, who are able to identify with the characters and their life stories. These cultural products not only present some possible solutions to the crisis, but also serve as a beacon of hope towards a real democracy in which the precariat can fight for its rights. The common inclusion of the precariat across unique media in twenty first century Spain reveals a shared view among its creators who write the failures of the country in order to enact change.

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