Building a New State from Outrage: The Case of Catalonia

Building a New State from Outrage: The Case of Catalonia

Marc Perelló-Sobrepere (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1081-9.ch019
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Most of the social movements that we are used to hearing and reading about base their activities in the pursuit of social rights. A great majority of these movements have recently formed due to complex socioeconomic issues. Usually these movements lack a formal organization and hierarchy. Most often they gather through sit-ins and occupations. Sometimes, there are direct confrontations with police. Almost always the current government in office is the target of protest. The case of Catalonia challenges these presumed notions of contemporary activism. This chapter analyses the social participation of the Catalan pro-independence movement. Historical notes are provided which are necessary for understanding the Catalan context. Then a review is presented of the four most important demonstrations in the recent history of Catalonia (2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014), all of which were in favor of independence, and also the participatory processes derived from these events, the non-binding consultation from 2014.
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To gather and organize millions of people at once in a peaceful protest is quite a feat. To do it five times with equal success definitely challenges our established notions of public involvement. The social movement in favour of Catalan independence provides an excellent case study for public participation. In the past decade, support for the independence of Catalonia rose from 10% to 50% and higher. In this chapter, we describe how did it happen and why did it happen. With an excellent organization and very precise communication strategies for public involvement, the independence supporters have drastically enhanced its base in Catalonia, almost monopolizing the political debate in Spain, and constantly drawing notorious attention internationally. We begin by contextualizing the Catalan case historically in terms of political rule from the early days to the present, setting a strong foundation upon which the Catalan nationalism is built. We then analyse the key events of public involvement –four demonstrations and one referendum– chronologically as they followed in the past five years (2010 to 2015), and how this events were approached from public involvement initiatives helped by mass communications. In doing so, we explain the consistent momentum gain in the pro-independence movement through the use of new media, which marked the constant progression of Catalonia’s public involvement of millions of people.

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