Catalan linguistic policy: liberal or illiberal?



Abstract. This article analyses the discussion, enactment and characteristics of the Linguistic Policy Act adopted by the Catalan Parliament in 1998, from the point of view of current normative political theory. The main theoretical question is whether its provisions promoting the Catalan language are compatible with the liberal political tradition, considering its different streams. The discussion shows that the main arguments are not different from those used by scholars dealing with issues of national and cultural pluralism in Western democratic societies. Thus, the opponents of the Act tend to rely upon various individual rights-based arguments taken from classical liberalism. Its advocates, on the other hand, accuse them of neglecting the value of cultural membership, asserted by influential authors within the liberal tradition. Ultimately, the article concludes that this law neither promotes nor allows illiberal practices.