The industrial middle class
Following the changes set in motion by the Industrial Revolution in 1830, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the industrialisation process received a new boost along with a diversification of industry (the textile industry still dominated, but new sectors were developed, such as metallurgy and finance).
This was a time of growth, dynamism and progress in which the vitality of the Catalan economy and its middle class became apparent, unlike the rest of Spain.
Catalan manufacturers lobbied for protectionist measures to defend national industry from competition from English and European products, but they were marginalized by the Spanish Government, which favoured free trade.
The 20th century also marked the origin of the industrial working class and its growth. Workers' movements fought to improve the harsh living conditions of the working class throughout the 19th century. The end of the century marked the start of a period of conflict and action by social movements.