Premio Nacional de Sociología y Ciencia Política 2005

Biographical sketch of Mr José Jiménez Blanco
by by Miguel Beltrán Villalva

José Jiménez Blanco

José Jiménez Blanco was born in Seville into a family of Granada origin, and it was at the University of Granada that he obtained his law degree and where he began to prepare his thesis in the field of social sciences, guided by Francisco Murillo. When Murillo obtained the political law chair at Valencia University, Jiménez Blanco followed him as assistant professor. After reading his thesis (an analysis of the Proposals of the Courts of Castille, a pioneer in these types of work), in 1959 he went to Michigan University in Ann Arbor, where he took a postgraduate course in sociology. Following his return to Spain, in 1962, he held the sociology chair at the Faculty of Political, Economic and Business Sciences in Bilbao. In 1964 he moved to Malaga but he returned to Valencia in 1969, in both cases as the organiser and first Dean of a new faculty. In 1969 he left Valencia again to take up a post in the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences, in the recently created Universidad Autónoma in Madrid. In 1979 he finally settled at the Universidad Complutense, this time in the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, from where he retired in 2000 after teaching for almost half a century. He is currently professor emeritus at this university.

One could say that Jiménez Blanco's career is a reflection of the process of academic institutionalisation of Spanish sociology: his series of migrations, from north to south and from east to west, inaugurating sociology chairs throughout Spain and always in economic science faculties, until he finally came to teach at the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, where he remained until his retirement and which, at the end of a long and prolific period, coincided with his honorary doctorate from Granada University and receiving the Alfonso X 'the Wise' Grand Cross. Also significant are his four years as director of the National Institute of Educational Sciences (INCIE), and he achieved significant international recognition for the Institute.

A portrait of Professor Jiménez Blanco should not however be just a summary of his CV and several of his publications should be highlighted as works of particular significance. One of these is the translation of Parson's The Social System, carried out in 1996 jointly with José Cazorla, professor of political sciences at Granada University. It is a great example of the precise use of Spanish language and social terminology, and the translation demonstrates a rarely found insight into Parsonian theory.

In addition to this magnificent translation is another important contribution, albeit thematically and academically different, of a booklet published in 1978 under the title, "De Franco a las elecciones generales", which comprises a collection of articles published by José Jiménez Blanco in newspapers and magazines from the days leading up to Franco's death until 15 June 1977. It incorporates some sixty or more articles published in a little under two years and written, as the author himself confesses, because of a sense of obligation to "pitch in and do his bit" in the delicate process that was taking place, but without entering into politics or setting aside his vocation for teaching.

Also worth remembering is an "Introduction to Sociology", in pocket book format in just 150 pages, it deals with the most essential aspects of the basic topics in the areas of culture, personality, ecological environment, the group, the family and stratification, in a way that brilliantly merges the thoroughness and the accessibility demanded by his academic concerns. In contrast once again with the aforementioned work, is the exceptional series of four articles, numbered I to IV and published in numbers 36, 37, 39 and 42 of what was at the time the Revista Española de la Opinión Pública (1974/1975), under the title of "sobre la disputa del positivismo en la sociología alemana". The reader of this enlightening series, obviously written following the publication in Spain of the book referred to in the title (a compilation of the debates at the Conference of the German Sociology Society held in 1961), is presented with extraordinary conceptual and argumentative analysis. Whereas, as we have already said, the small "Introduction" was dominated by academic concerns; the series on the positivist dispute demonstrates the crystal sharpness of scientific (or if you prefer, philosophic) thoroughness that prevails over any other consideration, although expressed with a straightforward clarity that is frequently reminiscent of the most fortunate texts of his much admired Zubiri.

These four examples would be more than sufficient to demonstrate the basic characteristics of the varied intellectual production of José Jiménez Blanco, although the reader who confines his or her references to the aforementioned publications would undoubtedly be missing out on others, such the pioneering article on "la sociología de las comunicaciones masivas en los Estados Unidos", published in 1958, or the research sponsored by the OECD and published in 1970 entitled "Estudio socioeconómico de Andalucía", which contains a volume devoted to the social structure of the region by Francisco Murillo and José Jiménez Blanco. Likewise, one would have to take into account "La conciencia regional en España", which he edited in 1977 and contained contributions from García Ferrando, López-Aranguren and Beltrán; his now classic "Teoría sociológica contemporánea", which he compiled in 1987 with Carlos Moya, and not forgetting "Historia y sociología de la ciencia en España", which he edited and published in 1979, or his distinguished translation of the first book by Hawley to be published in Spanish (1962), which contributed so decisively to the acceptance of human ecology in Spain.

José Jiménez Blanco belongs to the university group known as the "Granada School" of social sciences and, apart from Arboley, he was the first of its members to obtain a sociology chair. A school with a prestigious intellectual tradition of predecessors such as professors Fernando de los Ríos, Francisco Ayala and Joaquín García Labella, and which includes social scientists as prominent as Enrique Gómez Arboleya, Nicolás Ramiro Rico, Luis Sánchez Agesta, and Francisco Murillo Ferrol, as well as José Jiménez Blanco himself, sociology professor, and José Cazorla Pérez, political sciences professor (also recently retired). These are followed by an extensive list of politologists, consitutionalists, sociologists and anthropologists, whose names are not relevant here but for whom the teachings of Francisco Murillo were decisive in their intellectual and scientific training. It is in this context that José Jiménez Blanco represents a permanent benchmark for the entire community in the area of Spanish social sciences.

To mark his retirement, Professor Jiménez Blanco was presented with a book of honour, comprised of contributions chosen freely by their authors and co-ordinated by an organising committee, the composition of which reflects José Jiménez Blanco's institutional career in Spanish universities: in the organising committee, Julio Iglesias de Ussel represented Granada University, Bilbao University was represented by Víctor Urrutia, Malaga University by Juan del Pino, Valencia University by Manuel García Ferrando, Universidad Autónoma in Madrid by Miguel Beltrán, while the Universidad Complutense, being so large, was represented by two colleagues: Antonio Izquierdo and Amando de Miguel. Each member of the committee invited possible collaborators to contribute in their respective fields, they received the contributions sent and took part both in the drafting of the introduction that precedes the works, and the organisation and systemisation of the table of contents.

The first section in the volume is “Personalia”, a collection not of academic texts, but of the authors' reminiscences related to José Jiménez Blanco. For example, it starts with some magnificent pages by Francisco Murillo, followed by the memories, in this case as a disciple, of Ricardo Montoso from the Universidad Autónoma, and reminiscences of José Ortiz Díaz regarding the "founding” of the Malaga faculty. Given the impossibility of including here a review of the book of honour that could do justice to the quantity and quality of the works it contains, a mere reference to its subject matter shall have to suffice. The second section refers to “Aspectos de la sociedad española", and deals with subjects such as religion and secularisation, the family and young people, immigration, and some regional matters. The third section, called “La altura de los tiempos", deals with postmodernity and globalisation, communication technologies and lifestyles, knowledge, tourism, and lastly, time. Under the title “Política, economía y derecho", the fourth section is a collection of contributions that show the articulation these structures assume in the general context of society: they talk about democracy and public bodies, the State and the nation, intergovernmental and federal relations, the judiciary and the European Union. Of the final two sections in the book, one is a long text on social theory, with references to culture, ideology, identity, sociology of sociology and other issues, while the other section is somewhat briefer and deals with the methodology, together with a reflection based on a long and acknowledged experience, and relates to indicators, statistical analysis and surveys.

I hope this brief reference to the content of the almost 1,200 pages of this book provides an overview of what is an exceptional work due to the quality of the contributions and the names who have provided them. It will be an example of the prestige and affection that Professor José Jiménez Blanco enjoys in the field of Spanish science.