, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 243-271

Symbols and the world system: National anthems and flags

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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.