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Disdain, Distrust, and Dissolution

The Surge of Support for Independence in Catalonia

Germà Bel is professor of Economics at Universitat de Barcelona, and guest professor at Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. Has been visiting professor at Cornell University, and visiting researcher at Harvard and at European University Institute; and has published several books and more than fifty international academic articles on public sector reform (

Support for independence in Catalonia has increased rapidly over the past decade. This dynamic is the result of Catalans in political, economic and academic fields who no longer believe that the necessary reform of Spanish government is a viable option in terms of achieving an acceptable arrangement for Catalonia to stay within the Spanish state. Rejecting assimilation on the basis that a uni-national state is unworkable for a host of structural reasons, not least the lack of reform progress to date, secession is viewed as the preferred choice for the betterment of the region's people.

Disdain, Distrust and Dissolution dissects the problems of the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The author investigates the dynamics of conflict between opposing groups, the resulting effects on inter-territorial distrust, and the impact on the functioning of the Spanish state as a whole. These conflictual issues are projected onto areas of public policy that reflect basic motivations of rising public support for independence: national identity and sense of community (language and education policy); economic viability (fiscal relations with the state); and future opportunities in a global world (issues of infrastructure, especially transport).

The overwhelming conclusion is that the accumulation of mutual distrust between the opposing parties is a major obstacle to the functioning of the Spanish state. Mutual perception of unfairness and lack of trust is an impediment to the design and functioning of future shared projects – and without agreement and engagement there is no benefit to either party, to the detriment of Spain and its peoples.

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

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-704-9
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $69.95
Release Date: February 2015
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


The Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies       
Series Editor’s Preface    
Author’s Preface            

1  What Has Happened in Catalonia? (Along with Some Failed Explanations)

2  Are We As They See Us? Regional Preferences and Stereotypes in Spain (And Some Practical Consequences)

3  Disdain, Distrust and Dissolution

4  Languages that Are Imposed, Languages that Make Us Unequal   
5  Fiscal Transfers in Spain and Comparative Justice

6  On Tolls, Freight and Asymmetries         

Epilogue: What Cannot Be, Cannot Be, and Furthermore, It is Impossible   


This study examines the conflicts between Catalonia and Spain and reveals the language, economic, and political reasons behind public support for Catalan independence. The study explains why public support for Catalan independence has grown so fast, pondering whether this support is temporary or permanent, and also analyzes the core problems at the heart of conflicts between Catalonia and Spain, drawing on ideas from social psychology, organizational theory, neurobiology, and neuro-economics.

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