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Collection Social Divides. An Introduction

Jordi Sevilla, Economist;

We are living in an era of confrontation. A period in which the prevailing tones are “hate speeches that try to arouse not empathy, but antipathy; not belonging, but division; not continuity, but disruption”. An era of “chaos and clashes that leave little space for democratic deliberation, collective narratives or even, simply, the word”. A historic point in time that makes “strategic use of lies” and enforces “a head-on combat that puts an end to the field of the political and the diversity of society” (Christian Salmon).
Key points
  • 1
       A wave of citizen fury is sweeping the world, with social mobilisations in France, Hong Kong, Chile, Algeria, India, and so on. The international order that has prevailed more or less since 1945 is starting to crumble. The Arab Spring, the protest movements related to the world crisis of 2008, Me Too and mobilizations in favour of urgently fighting climate change, to name just four examples, highlight these disruptions of former social and political consensuses.
  • 2
       Following the last Great Recession, and the policies that were implemented, many citizens found themselves severely affected by the crisis, which left sudden deep wounds. Furthermore, when the citizens of developed countries, particularly the Europeans – looked to their governments seeking protection, they found their governments turning their backs on them, bound head and toe by international commitments that were limiting their margins for manoeuvre and pushing them to introduce cuts and austerity.
  • 3
       All of this left behind it a trail of inequality and a feeling of discontent and social injustice. And this is now being taken advantage of by populism and extreme ideologies, fuelled by unfulfilled promises, by an economic recovery that is not reaching everyone equally, by citizen dissatisfaction in the face of the growing polarisation of income and wealth, by the growing fear of those who feel that their future has been stolen and by the typically human need to find the guilty parties.
  • 4
       We are faced with a series of uneven and disarticulated revolts against “what I don’t like”, whose origins lie in a collective that feels badly treated or not taken into consideration (which leads us to the divide concept) by the public powers that be. Furthermore, the different divides that exist or have been created are sustained by what differentiates us; the adversary becomes the enemy, negotiation becomes claudication and agreement becomes surrender.
  • 5
       The aim of the study that we are introducing here, The Divides Breaking Up Spanish Society, is to help understand the causes of these worrying social phenomena and try to propose solutions. We are referring, in particular, to the divides that are threatening social cohesion and damaging the democratic coexistence between citizens who share the same formal rights. Fractures, in short, that prevent people from fully developing their life projects in freedom.

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