In a historical context, anti-Catalanism expresses itself as a hostile attitude towards the Catalan language, people, traditions or anything identified with Catalonia. In a political context it may express itself as the reaction to a perceived intrusion of Catalan political nationalism into the area. In its most extreme circumstances, this may also be referred as Catalanophobia. Several political movements, known for organising boycotts of products from Catalonia, are also actively identified with anti-Catalanism. It is a controversial term in Spain since Catalan political parties which support political independence are often accused of conflating criticism of their stances and actions with an attack on all Catalans.
Anti-Catalanism in its most virulent form is mostly associated with far-right Spanish political parties. Fringe groups such as España 2000 (none of which obtained more than 0.5% of the votes in the last general elections) object strongly to the autonomy enjoyed by Catalonia, claiming that the granting of autonomy to Catalonia and other regions will lead to the breakup of Spain .
Criticism of Catalan nationalism, is to be found throughout the Spanish political spectrumregional autonomy in Spain, or even the use of regional languages in the public domain. In fact, Ciutadans – which is possibly the most vocal of the Spanish political parties against the perceived excesses of regional nationalisms such as the Catalan – was created in Catalonia and has its national headquarters in Barcelona; this Catalan party – currently the largest party in the Catalan regional parliament – is equally referred to by Catalan nationalists as "anti-Catalan", illustrating a certain tendency among pro-independence Catalan parties to interpret attacks on their political stance as xenophobic, populist or selfish attacks on all Catalans, nationalist or not.
. However, such criticism does not usually imply hostility towards Catalonia itself, nor does it necessarily imply being against
In this regard, black lists of so-called "bad Catalans" (Catalan public figures who oppose Catalan separatism) have been published. It should be added that Ciutadans has had links in the past to extremist groups. And more recently tried to pass a motion through parliament against the alleged indoctrination in Catalan, Balearic and Valencian schools.
Additionally such a distinction between "good Catalans" and "bad Catalans" is found in both sides of the issue, most recently by PP Catalan Leader Xavier Albiol who talked about mobilizing the majority of "good Catalans" when referring to those against independence. The prevalence of it is up for debate.
Adding to the confusion, Catalan nationalists have often labelled as 'anti-Catalan' previous policies of the Spanish or French state which, per se, were not directed specifically to the Catalan culture, but were a part of a general centralist vision of politics.
Besides politics, anti-Catalanism is often also based on widespread perceived prejudices among regions of Spain. The stereotype of Catalans common throughout Spain involve a sense of them being industrious and excelling in entrepreneurship on the one side but also excessively individualistic, unfriendly, disloyal, snobbish or mean on the other side and is in practice the language most used in education as shown by speaker rates. This also applies to the prohibition of Spanish language signs: though the law states that the main language of street signs should be Catalan, it does not forbid the use of Spanish along with it.
. This perception plays with alleged political realities, Catalonia often being accused of lack of solidarity with the poorer regions of Spain, marginalisation of the Spanish language and culture (e.g., ban on bullfighting, absence of Spanish-language public education), and historical discrimination or xenophobia against economic migrants from Andalusia, Extremadura or other Spanish regions. The degree to which these accusations are justified is debatable, particularly since the children and grandchildren of immigrants have successfully integrated into a multicultural Catalan society. It should also be added that these are usually based on politically motivated misinterpretations, Spanish-language education is possible under request
However, arguments forwarded include that whereas the 20 most common surnames names in Catalonia proper are typical of the Spanish language, the majority of political seats and posts are held by people with typically Catalan language surnames, and some of those who do not have them 'Catalanise' them upon embarking on a political career. In particular it has been noted that a pool of Catalan language surnames held by 13% of the total Catalan population holds 40% of the politically designated jobs, which has been called an 'overrepresentation' or even 'hyperrepresentation' in the political elite of these Catalan families vs. the Catalan society as a whole.
Anti-Catalanism has a local and distinctive manifestation in the called Blaverism, a movement rejecting Joan Fuster's concept of Països Catalans. Blaverism is best reflected in debates concerning the status of Valencian versus Catalan, even though this phenomenon has diminished greatly over the last 25 years.
Also in Aragon there is an anti-Catalan movement that seeks to downplay the Catalan identity of La Franja, thus the Aragonese regional parliament passed a law to avoid referring to the Catalan language as the language spoken in some parts of Aragon, forcing a neologism in its place, even though this was later abrogated.