Sociological Forum

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 243–271

Symbols and the world system: National anthems and flags

  • Karen A. Cerulo

DOI: 10.1007/BF01115492

Cite this article as:
Cerulo, K.A. Sociol Forum (1993) 8: 243. doi:10.1007/BF01115492


When one examines current national anthems and flags, one finds a great deal of variety. What explains this variation? Possible factors include a nation's world-system position and its degree of modernization. Specifically, I analyze the ways in which world-system position and modernization affect the design or configuration—the syntactic structure—of the symbols national leaders adopt to convey their nation's identity. Findings reveal a link between a nation's world-system position and the structure of its symbols. Leaders of core nations adopt more basic anthems and flags than their semiperiphery and periphery counterparts. However, modernization has no such influence.

Key words

national symbolsworld systemsmodernizationsymbolic communication

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen A. Cerulo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Lucy Stone HallRutgers UniversityNew Brunswick