Protest cycles and referendums of independence. Closed opportunities and the path of radicatization in Catalonia = Ciclos de protesta y referéndums por la independencia. Oportunidades cerradas y el camino de la radicalización en Cataluña Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2019

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 14


  • 4, e142


  • 77

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-9712

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1988-429X


  • This article seeks to understand the trajectory of radicalization in the Catalan 'procés'. Regardless of their formal legalstanding, referendum campaigns are distinct political opportunities which also generate further opportunities. Contrary to what some theories of protest would predict, when political opportunities are closed down at national level, and repression toughens, violent escalation leading to fragmentation and ultimately demobilization does not necessarily ensue, at least in the short term. As the Catalan 'procés' illustrates between the mid-2000s and late-2018, the combination of mechanisms such as appropriation of opportunities, downward scale shift and movement convergence can mitigate escalation processes. A dense network of local and grassroots assemblies displaced the previously dominant, major civil society organizations that led mass protests, especially during the 2012-2015 'diadas'. These grassroots actors prioritized the organization of dissent through more direct, more disruptive, but mostly peaceful forms of action. This in turn facilitated movement convergence, based upon solidarization, as it opened up local spaces where the activists from across the spectrum could mobilize together, pre-empting a clear violent escalation and the emergence of violent splinter groups till late 2018.


  • Sociology


  • policing of protest; secessionism; referendums; downward scale shift; movement convergence; vigilancia de protestas; secesionismo; referéndums; cambio descendente de escala; convergencia de movimientos