Faculty Bookshelf

Identity Designs: The Sights and Sounds of A Nation (The Arnold and Caroline Rose Book Series of the American Sociological Association)

  • Book Image
  • Author(s): Cerulo, Karen A.
  • Publisher: New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press
  • Year Published: 1995

National symbols, modern totems with ancient roots, remain entities for which men and women continue to march, debate, fight, and die. Modern political leaders still drape their campaigns in such symbols; modern revolutionaries still defile them. Identity Designs explores the source of this long-standing power--the way national symbols are selected, the manner in which their meaning is conveyed, their potential effects, and the sustenance of their power. In particular, the book charts the role of design in the selection of symbolic images, thus demonstrating that symbols are chosen not just for what they convey, but how they convey their message. Karen A. Cerulo shows that the symbolic designs of a nation's identity are not simply the products of indigenous characteristics, as conventional wisdom might suggest. Rather, the banners and songs by which nations represent themselves are generated by broad social forces that transcend the peculiarities of any one nation. Cerulo's analysis acquaints readers with a set of social structural factors that delimit rules of symbolic expression. Further, the book suggests the benefits of adhering to these rules and explores the costs of violating them.