This article follows the approach originally pioneered by Juan Linz to the empirical study of nationalism. We make use of original survey data to situate the emergent social division around the question of independence within a broader constellation of power relations. We bring into focus a variety of demographic, cultural, behavioral and attitudinal indicators with which this division is associated. We emphasize the special salience of language practices and ideologies in conditioning, if not determining, attitudes towards independence. We stress the continuing legacy of what Linz famously referred to as a “three-cornered conflict” among “regional nationalists, the central government and immigrant workers,” which has long conditioned democratic politics in the region. More concretely, we show how the reinforcing cleavages of language and class are reflected in, and indeed have been exacerbated by, the ongoing political conflict between pro-independence and pro-unionist camps in Catalonia. At the same time, we highlight that near half of the Catalan citizenry has come to register a rather intense preference in favor of independence, and we conclude that this sociological reality renders it quite difficult for Spanish authorities to enforce the will of the Spanish majority without appearing to tyrannize the Catalan minority.
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