Catalans (Països Catalans) - Sociopolitical Organization

The Països Catalans today encompass regions in Spain and France and the independent state of Andorra.

Social Organization. Catalan society, since the Middle Ages, has been divided into socioeconomic groups based on occupation, descent, wealth, and prestige markers (education, cultural goods). Medieval and early modern categories of nobility, clergy, merchants, and artisans have given way since the nineteenth century to modern capitalist divisions. Successive waves of modern immigrants have been incorporated as workers with marked social and cultural discrimination. Conflict has been intense and often violent.

Political Organization. The Països Catalans now comprise three autonomous Spanish regions and eight provinces—Catalunya (four provinces), the Comunitat Valenciana (three), Illes Balears (one)—as well as a French department and the Principat of Andorra, administered by sindics representing its joint rulers, the bishop of the Seu d'Urgell and the president of France. Local administration is heavily fragmented. Municipal and autonomous governments ("Generalitats" in Catalonia and Valencia, the "Consell" in Balears) have been elected by universal suffrage in Spain since 1977. France has a longer tradition, but in Andorra voting citizens account for only 25 percent of the population. Spain and France have party systems in which class and nationalist interests are debated. Services are distributed among all levels of government. Taxes are paid to municipal governments and to the state, which redistributes part of them: the Spanish national budget is 25 percent for local administrations, 10 percent for autonomous regions, and 65 percent for national services. Països Catalan citizens also vote for European parliament members and participate in Common Market programs.

Social Control. Values of authority, tradition, and the importance of appearance are inculcated through school, home, and church. Formal systems of control include police, prisons, and the army, organs of the national state against which Catalan governments have attempted to construct their own agencies. Conflict between Catalonia and the central state, as well as internal class conflicts, have been recurrent themes of Catalan history.

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