Social Norm Change, Political Symbols, and Expression of Stigmatized Preferences

78 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2020 Last revised: 11 Apr 2022

See all articles by Elias Dinas

Elias Dinas

University of Oxford

Sergi Martínez

European University Institute

Vicente Valentim

University of Oxford - Nuffield College

Date Written: January 11, 2020

Abstract

Public displays of nationalism increased in Spain following the referendum on Catalan independence. We show that this change is due to a change in norms rather than in preferences. Spanish nationalism was stigmatized due to its association with authoritarianism. The referendum generated outgroup threat, giving individuals with nationalist views an incentive to display them. This updated perceptions about the strength of the anti-authoritarian norm, leading to its erosion. We collect a longitudinal dataset of Spanish flags hanging from buildings and combine it with an original survey. Evidence shows that the Catalan crisis increased displays of the Spanish flag and shows that their proliferation follows a pattern of normative change. Flags also worked as a coordination mechanism for normative change: their display rendered them more acceptable and made right-wing individuals more comfortable to approve of Francoism explicitly. Our results highlight the role of social norms as drivers of political behavior.

Keywords: Social norms, nationalism, Spain, authoritarian transitions, flags

Suggested Citation

Dinas, Elias and Martínez Soler, Sergi and Valentim, Vicente, Social Norm Change, Political Symbols, and Expression of Stigmatized Preferences (January 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3516831 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3516831

Elias Dinas

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Sergi Martínez Soler

European University Institute

San Domenico di Fiesole
Italy

Vicente Valentim (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

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