Intellectuals, Ethnicity, and Nationalism: Evidence from Catalonia

    • Presentation speakers
      • Yannis Karagiannis, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, Spain


    Social scientists have long recognized the role of intellectuals in generating and/or supporting nationalist ideals (Anderson 1983; Benda 2006[1927]; Gellner 1987; Guibernau 1999; Ory and Sirinelli 1986; Smith 1971). But how do intellectuals think about nationalism when that becomes a seriously divisive issue? Do they all converge towards the same view, or is there a polarization of expert opinion? If, as it seems to be the case, there is polarization, what factors explain each individual intellectual’s choice? Are these factors different from those affecting supposedly less thoughtful citizens, or are intellectuals driven by the same ’irrational’ passions as everybody else? To answer these questions, this paper draws on two literatures: the sociology of intellectuals, and the political behavior scholarship on nationalism; it then tests the resulting hypotheses using a custom-made survey of tenured professors of economics, history, international relations, law, philosophy, political science, and sociology in Catalonia. Our results show that, far from seeking to appease passions, intellectuals are more polarized than the wider public. More worryingly, we find that intellectuals are, like the general public, largely motivated by ethnic considerations.