Premio Nacional de Sociología y Ciencia Política 2002

Biographical sketch of Mr Francisco Murillo Ferrol
by by Fernando Vallespín

Francisco Murillo Ferrol

A master of social sciences:

Don Francisco, as we all called him, was a key figure in the evolution of sociology and Spanish political science during the last four decades of the 20th century. He was professor of political law at the universities of Valencia, Granada and the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid, and a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. He also received the National Award for Sociology and Political Science from the CIS in 2003, the first of such awards to be given by this institution.

He began his university career with a doctoral thesis on Francisco Suárez and his first book was "Saavedra Fajardo y la política del Barroco" (Instituto de Estudios Políticos, Madrid, 1957; re-edited in 1989), which even today retains its freshness and originality as a specific study of the history of philosophy. A short time later he came into contact with American post-war sociology and political science, from which would come "Estudios de Sociología Política" (Tecnos, Madrid, 1962), his empirical studies of Andalusia, about the Spanish middle classes, and his participation on a number of reports issued by FOESSA (the Foundation to promote social studies and advanced sociology). As director of the Instituto de la Opinión Pública, predecessor of the current Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, he also had the opportunity to study and evaluate these kinds of approaches and the new quantitative methods. At the same time, either simultaneously or successively, he studied constitutional law and theory of the State, the social history of Spain, social structure and change, inequality, specific aspects of political science... the list goes on, too long to give here in detail. One only needs to glance at the table of contents of the two volumes that make up his "Ensayos sobre sociedad y política", (Península, Barcelona, 1987 and 1988) to get an idea of the variety of subjects in which he took an interest, and, upon reading them, discover some of the most attractive characteristics of his writing: his impeccable style and his care never to end a debate, always suggesting rather than affirming.

The foregoing will no doubt serve to summarise, in broad terms, his contribution to social science in Spain. For his many disciples, however, it was much more. It is not easy to find a word that can express all that we owe him. He was a maestro and a friend, academic promoter and attentive accomplice of our clumsy evolution in his areas of knowledge. But above all, he was an example. Nobody could remain impervious to his honesty and bonhomie, his enthusiasm for reading, his knowledge of society and his insatiable intellectual curiosity. Everyone knew of his healthy scepticism and ironic detachment from immediacy, from that which was momentarily in vogue. Nevertheless, he always managed to tolerate and take interest in our reiterated extravagances and digressions. And he was always there when we needed him, to give us advice and affection. If the best guarantee of survival lies in the memory of those we leave behind, the maestro will continue to live for as long as we are all here.