The Prestige Press

A Comparative Study of Political Symbols

By Ithiel de Sola Pool

With Harold D. Lasswell, Daniel Lerner, Mary Chapman, Barbara Conner, Barbara Lamb, Barbara Marshall, Eva Meyer, Elena Schueller and Marina S. Tinkoff




This book compiles one of the major world attention surveys from the early period of content analysis. Originally produced by the RADIR Project at the Hoover Institution, The Prestige Press seeks to provide ways of measuring the ideological and social trends that constitute “the world revolution of our time.” As an exploratory work in the statistical tabulation and analysis of communication symbols, the significance of this study lies as much in its research methodology as in its substantive results.

To measure the fluctuations of political concepts, Professor Pool and his colleagues traced the flow of symbols in newspaper editorials of the “prestige papers” in Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States from 1890-1950. Counting editorials containing each of several hundred key symbols, the study documents some interesting trends in contemporary belief systems and related social phenomena—particularly those pertaining to democracy and authoritarianism, nationalism and internationalism, violence and peace, “self” and “other.”

Some of these trends have become more evident today. For instance, Professor Pool in his introduction to this new edition notes an increased emphasis on symbols relating to mass participation in democracy; a growing focus on violence in American society; and a continuing trend toward nationalism in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Pool's investigation found that the other countries studied are paying increased attention to the outside world.

This early study exemplifies the research techniques developed in pre-computer days, but Pool indicates that they can be readily adapted to new procedures of quantitative analysis. Since the advent of computers has revived interest in content analysis, the book will prove useful in related applications in the fields of sociology, political science, and international relations.

This is the eleventh volume in the M.I.T. Comparative Politics Series.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262160308 359 pp. |


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262660228 359 pp. |


Harold D. Lasswell, Daniel Lerner, Mary Chapman, Barbara Conner, Barbara Lamb, Barbara Marshall, Eva Meyer, Elena Schueller, and Marina S. Tinkoff.