The Two Main Challenges to Catalan Identity

Josep Maria Carbonell

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Since the Franco regime came to an end in 1978, the main political and social forces in Catalonia have pursued a model of intercultural relations that aims to protect Catalan cultural identity and at the same time to incorporate the various different waves of migrants who came to Catalonia from other regions of Spain during the course of the 20th century and who now represent close to 40% of the population. Moreover, during the negotiations for the new Spanish constitution in 1978, these political forces in Catalonia accepted a new political relationship with Spain with the constitution of the Catalan autonomous region. During the course of the past 15 years, two major factors have become increasingly apparent. First, there has been a further wave of migration from other countries and continents, in particular from Muslim countries (13.6% in 2016 compared with 2.9% in 2000). Second, the place of Catalonia within Spain has been called into question for a number of different political, economic, social, and cultural reasons. In 2017, a considerable number of Catalans, close to 50%, mobilized to demand the independence of their country and attempted to proclaim and constitute the “Republic of Catalonia,” thus breaking the constitutional law in force throughout Spain. This breach of the law brought about a response from the Spanish security forces and justice system, which resulted in the suspension of the Catalan autonomous government and the calling of elections. The object of this study is to analyze the impact of the recent migrations and the current political situation on the model of intercultural relations that has governed Catalan cultural identity in recent times. The principal objectives of the model have been to ensure the civil unity of Catalonia, to safeguard Catalan language and culture, and to promote respect for cultures of citizens from other regions of Spain, all within a context of mutual dialogue and exchange. The thesis of this article is that this model, which pursues integration and unity, is in danger of breaking down as a result of the new phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-806
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Catalonia
  • Europe
  • intercultural relations
  • migration
  • national identity


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