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Reading: A Social Contractarian Perspective on the Catalan Demand for Independence

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A Social Contractarian Perspective on the Catalan Demand for Independence

Authors:

Rory Gillis ,

The London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Rory
LSE UPR 2017/8 Research Team
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Eponine Howarth,

The London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Eponine
LSE UPR 2017/8 Research Team
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Chloe Liu,

The London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Chloe
LSE UPR 2017/8 Research Team
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Ludovico Picciotto,

The London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Ludovico
LSE UPR 2017/8 Research Team
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Facundo Rodriguez

The London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Facundo
LSE UPR 2017/8 Research Team
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Abstract

The Social Contract addresses the legitimacy of the authority of the state over individuals: ‘It purports to define the terms on which that society is to be governed: the people have made a contract with their ruler which determines their relations with him’ (J. W. Gough 1936).

Accordingly, the Constitution of a State acts as ‘a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organisation is acknowledged to be governed’ (Oxford Dictionary 2017). The legal manifestation of the contract, as a body of laws, defines the basic rights of citizens, alongside the powers of different entities of the state.

After the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, the promulgation of the Spanish Constitution in 1978 marked the culmination of the transition to liberal democracy. In 2017, Catalonia held an illegal referendum on independence, demanding secession, while Section 2 of the Spanish Constitution stipulates that ‘the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards’. Under what conditions, if any, can Catalonia legitimately demand secession?

This paper uses the complexity and diversity of conceptualisations of the Social Contract by three foundational Social Contract authors: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, to examine justifications for secession in the case of Catalonia. The application of the underlying philosophical principles on Catalonia provides a unique insight in this regard.

How to Cite: Gillis, R., Howarth, E., Liu, C., Picciotto, L. and Rodriguez, F., 2019. A Social Contractarian Perspective on the Catalan Demand for Independence. LSE Undergraduate Political Review, 2, pp.92–115.
Published on 25 Jun 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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