Project Details


Democracies are facing numerous challenges: the rise of populism, increasingly polarized publics, unequal participation, and increasing discontent. Scholars and pundits have alluded to a mounting crisis of democracy. However, the geographic dimension of this crisis has been largely neglected, even if democratic challenges often appear to be more pronounced amongst citizens in the rural periphery than amongst their metropolitan counterparts. The aim of this project is to understand the rural-urban cleavage in Catalonia, inquiring whether it affects citizens’ political preferences, especially regarding self-government and national identity. We propose a longitudinal approach covering the period 2007-2021, in order to: (i) examine the characteristics of the rural-urban cleavage in the political attitudes and behaviors of Catalan citizens; (ii) examine the underlying causes of these attitudinal differences; (iii) analyze the consequences of the rural-urban cleavage for political participation and voting behavior.
The project will combine survey data with aggregate-level contextual data. In terms of attitudes, the study will focus on identifying citizens’ preferences regarding different options of territorial organization, self-government, national identity, satisfaction with democracy, and trust in institutions and political leaders. Regarding behaviors, we will analyze voting (paying particular attention to support for Spanish and Catalan nationalist parties) and protest (namely, participation in demonstrations), considering the role of grievances and the perception of relative deprivation. We will examine the geographic rural-urban divide from two complementary viewpoints: (i) an evaluative perspective that contends that differences between rural and urban areas are rooted in citizen’s assessments of the performance of political actors and institutions, which may be based on (real and/or perceived) socioeconomic conditions, and the provision of public services in the corresponding geographic areas; and (ii) a cultural/identity perspective that contends that these differences are rooted in differentiated value systems and social identities. The project’s longitudinal perspective will allow us to trace the development of the rural-urban divide over time, paying special attention to the emergence of new political actors (such as Podemos or Vox), and the impact of Catalonia’s independence bid and the events that followed. The project will use quantitative methods and will draw on a variety of data sources. We will harvest existing survey studies and administrative data to examine the rural-urban divide in politics from a longitudinal perspective. These will be complemented with an original survey, which will include several new measures as well as experimental manipulations
Effective start/end date27/09/2126/09/23


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