Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1898
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1901


A repeated argument to invalidate the legitimacy of a debate on Catalonia’s independence is the existence of a spiral of silence affecting unionist supporters. However, we find inconclusive empirical evidence to sustain this claim. Although survey data show that willingness to talk about secession is higher among pro-independence supporters both in face-to-face and online environments, multivariate regression models – taking into account the perception of the opinion climate – reveal a different and more complex picture. Pro-independence supporters are highly mobilized particularly in like-minded and private environments, but this enthusiasm decreases when they perceive their ideas not to be shared by the majority, whereas unionist supporters show a more stable pattern irrespective of the opinion climate. In publicly exposed arenas like social media, where activists abound, willingness to talk is lower and differences between both sides are minimal. Overall, the results are hardly consistent with the patterns of behaviour that would be expected in a spiral of silence.


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