The Influence of Flags and Symbols on Political Ideology and Tension
Decorating balconies, sides of building, sidewalks, and basically any public space in Barcelona one will find flags or symbols representing Catalan separatism or Spanish nationalism. In a time as politically turbulent as the present, hanging a flag is the resultant of the human need to identify oneself as a member of a group in terms of political preferences, and to express to the world one’s opinion.
La Estelada Blava, the most popular flag that one will notice on display in Barcelona stands as the symbol of the separatist movement in Catalonia and represents their desire to gain independence from the rest of Spain
Evidence suggests that, “Successive hangings of flags are not independent events but that a local influence mechanism is favoring their clustering” (Parravano).
Far less controversial than the other flags is the Senyera flag. This red and yellow striped flag acts predominately as a symbol of the Catalonian region and its culture. With its roots in Aargon history, the flag earned its red stripes when, according to legend, Wilfred the Hairy, the Count of Barcelona laid dying from his wounds and King Charles the Bald dipped his fingers in Wilfred’s blood and dragged them down a golden shield as a sign of gratitude for the Count’s bravery and sacrifice in battle.
These yellow loops are worn as a show of support for the separatist movement and to demand freedom for the high-ranking figureheads who are currently in prison or under arrest warrants for their role in the ‘illegal’ secession referendum on October 1.
These political symbols scattered throughout the city have become so commonplace that citizens of Barcelona hardly think twice when passing them- or so they think. Recent studies on the influence of flags and political symbols shows that our unconscious mind soaks up these subliminal symbols and subconsciously these symbols influence our thinking.
Although using imagery and color to express ideas is a peaceful form of protest, its influence speaks so loudly that the government felt the need to interfere. Overall, it has become increasingly apparent that however quiet the simple hanging of a flag or wearing of a ribbon may seem, the effect both consciously and subconsciously is immense.
The primary function of flags is to communicate certain ideas, beliefs, and goals. Second, they initiate thoughts and behaviors that are associated with the idea the flag represents; therefore, assumed that flags are used to express unity and patriotism, they are likely to be able to bring about unity and encourage others to do the same.