Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas, Política Social, Isabor Ediciones, Murcia [Instituto Pericial, 1932, Barcelona], 2011, 88 págs.

Jesús Adolfo Guillamón Ayala

 

Resumen: En 2011 se ha publicado, por parte de Isabor Ediciones, una obra clásica dentro de la Política Social en España. Se trata del libro aparecido en 1932, en plena Segunda República española, de Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas, titulado Política Social, que se ha encargado de servírnoslo en su versión original, acompañado de una introducción a cargo de Jerónimo Molina Cano. En la obra ya se vislumbran las diferencias entre Política Social, por un lado, Derecho Laboral, por otro, y Sociología o Sociología del Trabajo. No obstante, Sáenz de Ynestrillas se mueve en una etapa doctrinal muy primigenia de la Política Social en nuestro país.

Palabras clave: Política Social, Derecho del Trabajo, Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas, Jerónimo Molina Cano, Ludwig Heide, Luis Olariaga Pujana, Miguel Carmona Sobrino, Federico Rodríguez Rodríguez, Manuel García Gerpe, Eugenio Ruano Fernández.

According to Professor Jerónimo Molina Cano, it was during the second half of the summer of 1932 when Política Social, by Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas, should have been published in the Instituto Pericial in Barcelona. As far as we know, it is the first Spanish systematic treatise on Social Policy. Now, almost 80 years later, it has been published again in Ediciones Isabor. And it is not by chance.
This work appears in the collection Elmare. Estudios de Política Social, which is directed by Professor Molina, who is at the same time Director of the “Luis Olariaga” Social Policy Seminar in the University of Murcia. It was some time ago that Molina realized the fact that there was not enough knowledge in Spain about the self history of Social Policy. He has been devoting his efforts to fulfill this task and one proof of this is his large bibliography on the subject. Consistent with this former intellectual intuition, current scientific certainty, the collection mentioned above has already published four works: La Política Social en la historia, by Jerónimo Molina, with an introduction by Federico Rodríguez, the former Social Policy Chair of the Complutense University in Madrid; La Política Social y la sociología y otros escritos, by Luis del Valle Pascual, with a preliminary study by Molina Cano; La Política Social y la libertad, by Manuel Moix Martínez, with a preliminary study by Molina Cano; and, now, Política Social, by Ramon Sáenz de Ynestrillas, also with a preliminary study by Molina Cano.
In the preliminary study of the book that concerns us here, Molina explains the circumstances surrounding the origins of Social Policy science in Spain. These circumstances still surround its development. Social Policy has had a very different fate from that of other related areas such as Sociology or Labour Law, which is also very different from that in other European universities. Especially strong was the relationship between Social Policy and Labour Law, from which the former was finally dissociated. Ludwig Heyde had already noted in his compendium on Social Policy (1920) that this fact would allow for greater freedom and depth to scientists of both branches in their studies. Therefore it was in other countries but not in Spain where Social Policy had been gradually relegated to a secondary role in successive curricula.
An example of this neglect is the fact that the author of the first Spanish compendium on Social Policy was a civil servant from the Labour Inspectorate. Moreover, it is worth noticing that since 1917 there already existed the first Chair of Social Policy and it had been awarded to the economist Luis Olariaga Pujana. It would have been logical that, as Social Policy was a university matter of study, the compendium should have been created in this academic environment in order to guide and facilitate the study of such subject matter to students and researchers. This could be considered as an awesome situation for Social Policy since it is a prestigious discipline for those who talk about it. This subject is always in the mouth of those who want to appear as just and wise, but only very few of them have worked on it from a scientific and academic perspective.
Over and above this lack of encouragement regarding Social Policy science in universities, the second of the circumstances surrounding the beginning and development of Social Policy in Spain is the conceptual confusion that there has always been around it. On the one hand, the concept of Social policy has not been clearly defined yet and it has different meanings depending on the school of thought one is referring to, either Sozialpolitik or Social Policy. In Spain, as we can see in the book, we mainly began taking into account authors belonging to the former school of thought and, then, there was a shift towards the latter. Nowadays, we are faced with not only a conceptual diversity but also a naming one. Social policy is even named with the Anglo-Saxon meaning in social policies, a term which, according to Molina, does not cover its full concept in Spanish. Other misguiding names can be used such as Social Welfare policies or Social Welfare. On the other hand, the fact other concepts related to Social policy are vaguely used does not help to clarify its concept: social grants, social assistance, social workers, social inequalities, etc. Every term which carries the social “surname”, used as an as adjective, seems to be shrouded in holiness and, therefore, no-one dares to criticize it, even if nobody knows how to define it properly.
Lastly, because of the prestige and kindness which are always associated to Social Policy, it has always suffered attempts of monopolization by different ideologies. Specially by the left wing. Thus, traditionally, Social Policy has been assumed to be a property and an achievement of left-wing ideologies and this fact is commented upon in this book.
Molina closes his introduction, of which this is just a short summary, referring to other books which have appeared at the same time and with similar intentions, but which have achieved much greater intellectual depth and scope that the present one, namely: Nociones de Política Social, by Eugenio Ruano Fernández; Contestaciones completas a la Política Social, by Ramiro Álvarez Álvarez, Manuel García Gerpe and Luis Balaguer Securun; and, particularly, Tratado de Política social, by Miguel Carmona Sobrino, of which Molina has a deep knowledge, as he had already presented a paper at the Second Conference of the Spanish Network of Social Policy in 2010.
As regards the book Política Social, this first compendium came out at a period of unrest and agitation in Spanish politics. The Second Spanish Republic was a period characterized by political instability, with constant changes of government and ministers. This unrest was also present, as it could not have been otherwise, on the competitive examinations to enter the Labour Inspectorate and other institutions which promoted Social Policy. Therefore, there were several examination announcements which were later cancelled as well as reforms and reforms of previous reforms. It is at this time of workers’ emancipation and Social Policy theorists’ emancipation, when Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas’s book was published. Actually, he was one of the candidates who became an auxiliary labour inspector after passing a competitive examination in 1933.
Following Miguel Carmona Sobrino’s words through Jerónimo Molina, it can be said that the first works on Social Policy were published as a collection of incomplete and not very systematic essays, which responded to the needs of that time. This author referred to the need of providing enough materials for candidates who wanted to prepare the competitive examination to enter the renovated Labour Inspectorate. Moreover, as Molina added, it was a good chance to take advantage of the publishing opportunity provided by the examination announcements to join the Provincial Labour Inspection, which took place between 1932 and 1936. The examination content the candidates had to prepare, which is the object of a thorough examination in Molina's preliminary study, obviously served Sáenz de Ynestrillas and other authors as a guide to prepare their books.
Because of the brevity of this work, Sáenz de Ynestrillas deals in a synthetic way with concepts such as the social question, social policy, interventionism, labour, capital, income, trade unions, conflict and conciliation. And he did it from a historical and comparative perspective.
Starting in many cases with an odd and concise historical explanation of some concepts such as the social question, the capital, labour or trade unions, Ramón Sáenz makes us understand how the social question for him is mainly the labour question. Thereby, he considers Social Policy as a set of measures aiming to harmonize the relationship between employers and employees in the interest of the community and over individual interests. Likewise, Sáenz states that Social Policy was not born in Spain until labour parties and Social Law (that is Labour Law) were created. And, in accordance with the same division that Ludwig Heyde had put forward in his compendium on Social Policy in 1920, Sáenz states that Social Policy has three main objectives, namely: the protection of workers, a salary policy and the protection the worker's personality.
In different parts of the book, but especially in those where the author offers a theoretical and historical overview of Social Policy and other related concepts, it can be seen what Molina stated in his preliminary study regarding ideology and Social Policy. Sáenz de Ynestrillas includes numerous quotations by Marx or Engels thus taking their statements about capital, labour or surplus value as if they were his own explanations. Moreover, in other passages, he accuses civil servants of a lack of working class consciousness in order to fight for their rights or he predicts the collapse of capitalism. He even defends participation not only for an ideology, but also for a party and a union supporting them.
Consistently with the objective of the book, which is to help candidates to prepare for the competitive examinations to enter the Labour Inspectorate, the author goes over some more practical aspects of Social Policy. On the one hand, he gives an interesting explanation of aspects such as the fixing of salaries and supplements to protect workers in times of inactivity or the difference between industrial capital and productive capital. On the other hand, based upon the triple objective of Social Policy as described above, he shows the historical evolution of workers’ protection in Spain and compares it to other countries’. At the end of the book, we can find a comprehensive list of conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organization.
In summary, this book may not be so interesting for its theoretical contribution to the science of Social Policy as for being the first Spanish compendium, which shows the conditions of the beginning of Social Policy in Spain. To be able to better understand this statement, it is essential to read the preliminary study by Jerónimo Molina, which contextualizes, explains and puts into perspective the book as well as the complete collection.
Therefore we welcome this fourth publication of the series Elmare. Estudios de Política social, as well as the three former books and the new ones which are already mentioned in the lapel of Política Social by Ramón Sáenz de Ynestrillas. All these works attempt to bring to light the history of the scientific constitution of Social Policy in Spain.
We recommend the reading of this book and the rest of the collection to anyone who is interested in the recovery, knowledge and analysis of the origins and development of Social Policy science in Spain. This is the reason why we found relevant and absolutely timely this initiative by Jerónimo Molina. This Professor of Social Policy in the University of Murcia, renowned specialist in Social Policy, has seen the convenience and need for the reconstruction of such subject, in view of the carelessness and conceptual confusion that Social Policy has suffered. [Recibida el 27 de junio de 2011].


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