Dissertation Abstracts

An Analysis of Social Networks and Framing in the Catalan Independence Movement: Towards a Theory of Networked Nationalist Collective Action

Author: Miranda Imperial, miranda.imperial@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Diana Kudaibergenova
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: social movements , Catalan nationalism , social network analysis , networked nationalism
Areas of Research: Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change , Political Sociology , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Spain struck down an enhanced Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia, refusing to give the territory extra provisions of nationality. This saw a new wave of Catalan pro-independence sentiment emerge, with ensuing demonstrations and online activism for Catalan nationalism. With this backdrop, my research seeks to bring an understanding to this new iteration of Catalan nationalist mobilisation by analysing the developments in Twitter-mediated collective action during 2012-2022. My main argument holds that Catalan nationalism during this decade is an example of a networked nationalist social movement: a prolonged mobilisation activity underpinned by relations between individuals, activist groups and even institutions collaborating together with nationalist activist aims, often those of greater self-determination and extending to independence and secession. This thesis identifies and addresses a glaring gap in the literature: a link between analysing nationalist mobilisation themes together with social movement organisational dynamics. Thus, my research undertakes a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative social network analysis and a qualitative content analysis focusing on interpreting activist frames that empirically brings together the two theoretical fields. In this way, I outline whether we can think of Catalan pro-independence as a social movement, how it has changed over time, who the key actors in the movement are, and how they have framed Catalan identities and reasons for mobilisation. My thesis reveals the existence of a mediated civic, liberal nationalist movement with prominent social movement organisations that focuses on grievances and oppositional framing. This understanding complicates civic and ethnic distinctions in nationalism theory, as well as previous understandings of Catalan nationalism. Ultimately, my findings shed new light on nationalism as a crucial, mobilising force, beyond individuals or institutions.