LECTURE: Political polarization in Catalonia and Spain – A case study

07 Sep 2018
16:30 - 17:30
Grand Plateau

LECTURE: Political polarization in Catalonia and Spain – A case study

What can we learn from the experience of political polarization?

Fernando Vallespin, University of Madrid, a longtime advisor and lecturer for NECE, explains how difficult it is to deal with emotionally loaded conflicts that revolve around identity issues.

This presentation will not be centered on speculations regarding the times ahead, but on trying to explain the dynamics of political polarization that this process has brought about. Its main emphasis delves around the issue of why the support for Catalan independence, which before the economic crisis was only favored by a clear minority, expanded in just a few years to encompass almost half of the population. This can only be explained by focusing on a series of historical, political, economic or sociological variables, but also on the constant presence of polarizing discourses that have the inevitable flavor of populism: ‘Us versus Them’, oversimplifications of very nuanced topics, the centrality of emotions, the use of social media as weapons, and even the aim of winning the battle for occupying ‘empty signifiers’ (Laclau) such as ‘democracy’, ‘liberty’ and other political concepts. The Catalan case exemplifies the difficulties to overcome emotionally loaded conflicts that revolve around identity issues.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session.