The Internet’s Double Edge: Increasing Mobilisation and Fragmentation in the Catalan Pro-Independence Movement
Type of work: Communication
Categories:e-Politics | Politics and Political Science
This paper discusses the role that the Internet has played in the recent evolution of the Catalan pro-independence movement. This case poses a paradox: while support for the independence of Catalonia has reached unprecedented high levels in recent months, support for the party that has traditionally advocated the independence of Catalonia has declined to unprecedented levels. In other words, the increasing mobilization of pro- independence supporters has been accompanied by the decline of the party that has so far monopolized this issue. This paper hypothesizes that the Internet has played a causal role in this two-fold process. On the one hand, it argues that the Internet has facilitated the mobilization of this segment of the electorate. Since the Internet can increase the visibility of political issues that are absent in official public forums, we expect individuals with non conventional preferences to be more likely to have an additional incentive to be politically active online. On the other hand, it argues that, by facilitating mobilization from the grass-roots, it has contributed to the movement’s fragmentation and consequent decline of the party. Since the Internet reduces the costs of collective action, we expect the Internet to promote political mobilization at the price of introducing more pluralism and fragmentation. In order to test these hypotheses and measure these effects, we will use both cross section and longitudinal data from a variety of opinion surveys of Spanish and Catalan agencies.
More information at Joan Balcells, Ana Sofía Cardenal: The influence of the Internet on voting behaviour.