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The study of political symbolism examines how symbols influence political preferences, identifications, and behavior. It thus intersects with several areas of research in political science, including nationalism, institutional legitimization, political allegiance, social movements, and electoral behavior. The entry first discusses how scholars define political symbols and conceptualize their role. It then turns to the factors that make political symbols effective in influencing political attitudes and behavior. It concludes by discussing whether political symbolism is an inescapable feature of political life.

Definition and Role of Political Symbols

A political symbol can be any object, person, word, performance, or gesture that represents a political institution, hierarchy, movement, belief, or ideology. Flags, kings, and queens can thus serve as political symbols, as can songs, poems, and national heroes and ...

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