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Independence, Language and Identity in Modern Catalonia

A Study in Socio-Cultural and Socio-Political Allegiance

Steven Byrne teaches in the Dept. of Sociology, the School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, the Dept. of Politics and Public Administration and the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Limerick (UL). His research interests include sub-state nationalism, social movements, the Catalan successionist movement, minority languages and multiculturalism. He has published his work in the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Ethnopolitics and the International Journal for Iberian Studies.

The processes associated with globalisation have seen Catalonia become an increasingly ethnolinguistically diverse region. A vibrant civic and political movement for an independence has brought a renewed urgency to questions about what it means, personally and politically, to speak or not to speak Catalan or Spanish in 21st century Catalonia. This book examines the attitudes of members of independence organisations toward the Catalan and Spanish languages against the backdrop of the independence movement. A multifaceted socio-political and socio-cultural situation is reflected in what speakers think about the languages, how they perceive them and how understanding this can reveal the complex configuration of language and identity politics.

Research using focus groups and narrative interviews was conducted with members of independence organisations operating in the Catalan city of Girona. Analysis of the data reveals a diversity of attitudes toward both Catalan and Spanish, with both languages being mobilised in diverse combinations for a wide range of purposes. Qualitative methodology revealed the ways in which Catalan and Spanish are currently being practised, and the symbolic and functional role the languages play in articulating a sense of modern-day Catalan identity. Respondents indicate that, against the backdrop of the independence process in the region, globalisation and migration, bilingualism and multilingualism have become highly valued in modern Catalonia for a myriad of different reasons. Research findings bring to the fore the complex matrix of political, ethnic and linguistic allegiance which has important implications for similar national independence situations in the rest of the world.

Published in association with the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-071-2
Paperback Price: £35.00 / $50.00
Release Date: February/March 2021
Page Extent / Format: 196 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



List of Abbreviations


Transcription Conventions





1 Globalisation, Language and Catalonia


2 Theory and Data


3 Catalanitat: Catalan and Spanish in Modern Catalonia


4 Calls for Independence: The Role of Catalan and Spanish







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