Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The article discusses characteristics and relevance of leader cults and symbolic politics within state socialism. After defining distinctive features of modern personality cults, the article traces trajectories of major cults over time and highlights interconnections, similarities, and differences between them. Cults served to centre emotions and loyalties in a personalized symbol and were part of a wider cosmos of symbolic politics, which played an important role in communicating party policies and social hierarchies. However, a purely instrumentalist understanding fails to account for the manifold popular expressions of the cults, especially within local contexts. The article argues that both official and non-officially ascribed meanings should be taken seriously, and further explores state–society interactions in fostering and sustaining leader cults.

Keywords: personality cult, symbolic politics, rituals, communication, Stalin, Mao Zedong, North Korea

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.