Summary, Conclusions

My project in Catalonia was a success. Although the results of the interviews are showing a different situation than I before expected, what I discovered has shown me the value of field research as well as in depth analysis of a situation. Not only carrying out elite interviews but also observing my environment acutely allowed me to dive deeply into the grievances shaping the secessionist movement. I observed the primary grievances responsible for the growth in sentiment to be related to recent changes in the devolved power of Spain to Catalonia. Most interviews and conversations I had in the South evoked the 2010 ruling of the Spanish constitutional court as a major source of contention. The economic argument, which I had hypothesized to be the leading explanation for rising secessionism, proved important but not the sole or dominating opinion expressed in the interviews. The economics of the relationship between Spain and Catalonia is certainly not to be ignored.

North Catalonia has a much weaker political secessionist movement than does its southern neighbor. Leaders of the movement, however, described a revived interest in the Catalan identity among many North Catalans. The changes taking place in North Catalonia are closely tied to the rise of separatist convictions in South Catalonia. The economic crisis, paired with recent political-cultural malaise in France, is encouraging many to increasingly view Barcelona and South Catalonia as a both an economic and cultural opportunity.

On the nomothetic scale, my experience exploring the grievances behind the growth of the Catalan independence movement led me to make predictions about regionalism in a larger context. Principally, this includes looking at long standing regionalist movements in terms of the center-periphery debate. The center-periphery cleavage, as it is known in Representative Government in Modern Europe by Gallagher and Laver, represents the struggle between the dominating entity of a state which seeks to shape the state building project and that of the periphery, which aims to maintain its autonomy. Many states have such a debate, which in the end represents the struggle between different visions of state building. Madrid and Barcelona certainly exemplify this, as do many other entities today. Catalonia treated as a case study indicates that moves which try to reduce the publicly supported autonomy of the periphery, which often caries with itself a profound part of regional identity, will likely increase secessionist sentiment. The paper I am currently writing analyzes these findings in more detail.


  1. I completely identify with your points about the importance of field research. While conducting my interviews in Tanzania I also felt that traveling the country helped me understand some of the points respondents brought up. I also realized the importance of interviews for understanding a situation more deeply.