PROPERTY AND CLASS: Land property rights and class politics: evidence from Catalonia

During his academic career, Stefano Falcone was awarded two PhD in Economics: the first at the University of Siena in Italy in 2018 and the second at ECARES at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium in 2021. His research was presented in more than twenty international invited seminars and conferences across Europe and USA.

Stefano Falcone was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Instituto de Análisis Económico (IAE, CSIC), and an Affiliated Professor at the Barcelona School of Economics since September 2021 until March 2023.

His main research interest is Political Economy. The researcher uses microeconomic data and quasi-experimental designs to investigate the causes of social conflict, political extremism, and social exclusion.

Since April 2023, Stefano Falcone works as a ComFuturo fellow at the IAE, where he is carrying out his ComFuturo project PROPERTY AND CLASS.

PROPERTY AND CLASS busca esclarecer las raíces históricas de los conflictos redistributivos y de las antagónicas posiciones políticas de la izquierda y de la derecha. Con este objetivo, el proyecto estudiará el legado de la Reconquista en Cataluña entre los siglos VIII y XII y los distintos niveles de desigualdad en la propiedad de la tierra que produjo para explicar patrones de conflicto político desde principios del siglo XX. Los resultados, que situarán el origen de las diferencias políticas actuales entre la derecha y la izquierda en un proceso, la Reconquista, que ocurrió más de hace mil años, facilitarán el entendimiento entre las distintas partes implicadas, poniendo de manifiesto la raíz histórica de sus posiciones políticas. Asimismo, podrán servir de estímulo a otras investigaciones que pretendan revelar el fundamento histórico de los conflictos redistributivos contemporáneos.
PROPERTY AND CLASS seeks to shed light on the historical roots of redistributive conflicts and the antagonistic political positions of the left and the right. To this end, the project will study the legacy of the Reconquest in Catalonia between the VIII and XII centuries and the different levels of inequality in land ownership it produced in order to explain patterns of political conflict since the beginning of the XX century. The results, which will locate the origin of the current political differences between the right and the left in a process, the Reconquest, which occurred more than a thousand years ago, will facilitate understanding between the different parties involved, revealing the historical roots of their political positions. They may also serve as a stimulus for other research that seeks to reveal the historical basis of contemporary redistributive conflicts.

Extended project summary:

What are the historical roots of political conflict? Why do some people demand redistribution while others are against? And, under which conditions, this conflict of interest over redistribution is expressed peacefully, in the ballots or through protests, or violently with revolutions and repressions?

This project will explore these questions in the context of Catalonia. The region was conquered by the Christians against the Muslims in the period from the VIII to the XIII century. In the first five centuries (VIII-XII), the Northeast of Catalonia (Old Catalonia) was conquered at a low speed and spontaneously by private farmers. In contrast, all of a sudden during the XII century, the Southwest of Catalonia (New Catalonia) was conquered at a high speed and in a directed way by the aristocratic élite.

The hypothesis being tested is that the fast Reconquest in New Catalonia generated a more unequal and élite-controlled society compared to the one in Old Catalonia. This, in turn, generated a strong presence of redistributive demands by landless farmers, producing different political consequences under different political regimes. Under democracy (1890-1923, 1931-1936, 1975-2023), when there is competition for power between the élite and the rest, the researcher expects to find higher votes for the left and more protests in municipalities in New Catalonia than in those in Old Catalonia. Stefano Falcone also expects to find more revolutionary activity in New Catalonia’s municipalities when the state collapsed because of the burst of the Civil War (1936-1939). Finally, under dictatorship, when Franco came to power and the élite controlled the state (1939-1975), the researcher expects that municipalities in New Catalonia suffered from more political repression than those in Old Catalonia.