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Entrapped in a failing course of action: Explaining the territorial crisis in 2017 Catalonia

Ferreira, Carles (2021) Entrapped in a failing course of action: Explaining the territorial crisis in 2017 Catalonia. Regional and Federal Studies, 32 (5). pp. 573-592. ISSN 1359-7566. E-ISSN 1743-9434. (doi:10.1080/13597566.2021.1907570) (KAR id:88057)


Why did the territorial conflict between the governments of Catalonia and Spain escalate to the point of extreme institutional disruption in October 2017? The present article explains this crisis – a declaration of independence followed by the imposition of direct rule – as the outcome of an Escalation of Commitment behaviour. By examining the iterative relationship between both governments, the article shows that they were trapped in a failing course of action, unable to withdraw from their early political decisions. Despite facing increasingly negative outcomes from their choices, both sides had already invested too much political capital to quit. Expectations and self-justification attitudes account for the escalation behaviour, together with a radicalized decision environment. The findings have broader implications for the study of nationalist politics: they show that the commitment to early decisions mediated by the existence of strong political incentives against compromise may lead to the escalation of territorial conflicts.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13597566.2021.1907570
Uncontrolled keywords: Catalonia, Escalation of Commitment, nationalism, secession, Spain
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Carlos Ferreira
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 06:33 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 14:54 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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