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Communication effects, ethnicity, and support for secessionism in stateless nations: results from a survey experiment in Catalonia

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  • Yannis Karagiannis

Abstract

Over the past twenty years or so, economic and cultural interdependence has gone hand in hand with the rise of nationalism, particularly in stateless nations. For example, Catalan politics has increasingly focused on the issue of secession from the rest of Spain. As in Flanders, Quebec, Scotland, and elsewhere, the ensuing polarization of opinion creates two questions of paramount importance for social scientists: (a) How strong are individual preferences? and (b) what determines these preferences? To answer these questions, we use a custom-designed survey experiment (N = 913) which allows us to estimate the effect of frames net of confounding effects, and to determine other determinants of preferences. We find that frames matter even in polarized political times and when voters have had enough time to form their judgement on a given issue. We also detect a strong role for ethnicity, measured as the number of Catalan-speaking grandparents and language spoken at home, as well as for the geographical scope of professional activity. Our findings help challenge the economic approach to politics, whereby agents hold well-defined and constant preferences, and give support to the view that both short- and long-run constructivist elements play a crucial role in centrifugal political movements.

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  • Yannis Karagiannis, 2014. "Communication effects, ethnicity, and support for secessionism in stateless nations: results from a survey experiment in Catalonia," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers p0386, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0386
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brancati, Dawn, 2006. "Decentralization: Fueling the Fire or Dampening the Flames of Ethnic Conflict and Secessionism?," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 651-685, July.
    2. Nadeau, Richard & Martin, Pierre & Blais, Andrã‰, 1999. "Attitude Towards Risk-Taking and Individual Choice in the Quebec Referendum on Sovereignty," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 523-539, June.
    3. Chong, Dennis & Druckman, James N., 2010. "Dynamic Public Opinion: Communication Effects over Time," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 663-680, November.
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