Barcelona Field Studies Centre

The Raval: a study of social exclusion

El Raval is the district with the highest volume of immigrant population in Barcelona, but the growing presence of a new wealthy and middle class is contributing to social changes that conceal new forms of exclusion for those who have lived a lifetime in the area.

An investigation carried out over ten months between 2006 and 2007 by the University of Barcelona shows that some trendy bars in El Raval use the right of admission to refuse entry to immigrants - mostly Moroccans and Algerians. The study gives an account of the techniques used to filter customers to maintain an exclusive clientele of young people between 25 and 35 years of age, rich, middle class Spanish or foreigners and university students. Refusing access to the public on grounds of race or place of birth is illegal.

Among the most common exclusion strategies is the performance of doorkeepers who select customers before entering the bar or simply close the doors and request payment for entry when in fact it is free. In other cases, customers can be refused entry for inadequate clothing, or informed that the establishment is closed because it is holding a private party. There are also situations where an immigrant enters the bar but once inside, is the subject of extreme vigilance in order to identify reasons for refusing admission.