This book is a case study which narrates the history of the National Organization of the Spanish Blind (ONCE), established in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Contrary to other affluent countries where most blind people live on welfare benefits, the Spanish blind enjoy full employment. Furthermore, the average income of the Spanish blind is higher than that of the sighted. Why is this so? Why the blind, and not the deaf mute, or any other group of disabled people? This book shows that ONCE answers these questions.
The book explains ONCE'S origins, the shifting strategies that the organization has pursued to adapt to an ever-changing environment, its original goals and the way they have mutated and been interpreted, its conflicting relationship with an authoritarian regime, its struggle to find its place in a democratic regime, and its relations with other groups of disabled people. A historical narrative, the book lies at the intersection between disability and organization studies, history and sociology.
It will be of interest to all scholars of disability studies, the sociology of work, the history of medicine and contemporary Spanish history.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Origins
Chapter 2. The Challenge of the Original Goals
Chapter 3. A New Organizational Culture
Chapter 4. The Blind and People with Other Disabilities
Chapter 5. Gigantism and Containment
Chapter 6. The Future of the ONCE
Roberto Garvíais Professor of Sociology at the University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain. His research has focused on the sociology of organizations, comparative historical sociology, economic sociology, and sociolinguistics.
'This book is institutional theory at its best. It is on a par with the classics in that school. Garvia’s book shows the importance of historical case studies to unravel the evolutionary dynamics of organisations and their embeddedness in large institutional contexts. It is above all a fascinating account of the process of 'displacement of goals' in one organization. We are surrounding by them and yet they are so poorly studied. Organizing the Blind helps to fill that void thanks to the enormous research craft of the author.' - José Luis Alvarez, INSEAD, France
'In Organizing the Blind, Garvía shows that organizations are malleable tools that adapt to changing circumstances, and depart from their original purposes in order to survive and thrive. Drawing on a prodigious amount of archival work and interviews with key decision-makers, he dissects the Spanish National Organization for the Blind, praising its achievements and exposing its failings and contradictions. A major contribution to the sociology of organizations and to political sociology, which echoes and amplifies the theoretical insights of Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance and Robert Michels’s iron law of oligarchy.' - Mauro F. Guillen, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A