On (National) Citizenship and (De)Politicised Nations: Everyday Discourses about the Catalan Secessionist Movement

Pradillo-Caimari, Cristina; Andreouli, Eleni and Tarditti, Andrés Di Masso (2023). On (National) Citizenship and (De)Politicised Nations: Everyday Discourses about the Catalan Secessionist Movement. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 11(1) pp. 291–308.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.9275


This paper examines the Catalan independentist movement, understood as a paradigmatic case of secessionist politics in a European context. Drawing on recent rhetorical-psychological studies on citizenship and nationhood, we explore how constructions of citizenship and national identity interweave to shape, warrant and contest opposing arguments about Catalan independence and Spanish sovereignty. We conducted a discursive-rhetorical analysis of thirty open-ended interviews and one focus group with Catalan residents that held different positions towards independence. The analysis shows that arguments for independence construct secession demands as a citizenship right that, in turn, assumes different versions of the Catalan national community. Arguments against independence reify the Spanish national identity by constructing it as a political community where all citizens have the same rights. Both argumentative poles position “the nation” as a core element in political citizenship discourses. Specifically, we argue that a diversity of citizenship formulations stressing democratic rights, practices, and political traditions, rhetorically works both to support and to challenge otherwise explicitly ethnic, cultural and civic understandings of nationhood. The article advances a historically situated approach of citizenship and national categories attending to their specific rhetorical mobilisations in current independentist conflicts.

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