Defining: Hegemony

Antonio Gramsci developed and popularized the concept of Cultural Hegemony..
By River Davis

The dominance of one state over others.

Originating during the middle 16th century in Greece, from the Greek word hēgeisthai - ‘to lead.’ The word was derived from the alliances between a number of city-states under the leadership of one dominant state.

 

Cultural significance of Hegemony

The word Hegemony comes from the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci who developed and popularized the concept of Cultural Hegemony through the widely influential publication of his prison journals written during his imprisonment by the fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1926. These writing can be found today in Selections from the Prison Notebooks.

 

Scholarly definition of Hegemony

Gramsci defines hegemony as: The success of the dominant class, the bourgeois, in manipulating the ideas, values, and beliefs of the lower classes so that those ideas, values, and beliefs become the worldview accepted as a general consensus and as the status quo beneficial for everyone rather than as the artificial social constructs devised by and for the benefit of the dominant class. The ideas, values, and beliefs are implemented through the use of mass media, education, and religious institutions so that any social group presenting an alternative world view would be marginalized by the masses. (Gramsci 1971), (Heywood 1994).

Understanding Hegemony

Gramsci basically breaks it down like this. The rich and powerful create world views for the lower classes that are presented in a way that seems to benefit the lower class but in actuality benefit the rich and powerful.

Are you subjected to Cultural Hegemony? You think your ideas and world view are your own and that they benefit you, right? But you have learned these views from the mass media, education system, and religious institutions, all controlled by the most powerful classes of society. You have never questioned why this is the status quo because anyone you have seen question the mass consciousness, and “fight against the system”, be demonized and marginalized. Are your thoughts your own or are you consenting to the will of greater powers? I can’t say for sure but this sure did turn out to be an interesting and insightful post. If I peeked your interest I’ve included citations below where you can read Gramsci’s work and more on Political concepts. 

 

Gramsci, Antonio (1971) Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, New York, International Publishers. http://courses.justice.eku.edu/pls330_louis/docs/gramsci-prison-notebooks-vol1.pdf

Heywood, Andrew (1994) Political Ideas and Concepts: An Introduction

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