Hegemony

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

The total cultural, economic, and political dominance achieved by ruling elite in a society. The term was developed by Antonio Gramsci. once a particular group had achieved hegemony, their viewpoint becomes accepted by public opinion as common sense, making it difficult for opposition groups to make an effective challenge. From 1979-97, the Conservative Party achieved hegemony with its policies for transforming the economy. Margaret Thatcher’s phrase ‘there is no alternative expressed common sense views widely held at the time.

(AS/A-Level Media Studies Dictionary – David Probert 2005)

We all live in societies where there are power structures. According to Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, these systems of power cannot be maintained by force alone. People have to do things, willingly and happily, in their everyday lives that keep the powerful people on top. Coercion alone does not work. If the President of the United States threatened to put to death Americans who did not hang flags from their homes, that president would be overthrown. However, plenty of Americans hang flags from their homes willingly and happily, and this is an everyday behavior that helps the government remain in power.

Everyday behaviors that keep governments in power:

People hanging flags from their homes

People rising and removing their hats when the national anthem is sung

People celebrating a country’s independence day with parades and picnics

Everyday behaviours that keep corporations in power:

People wearing designer clothing

People shopping at chains instead of local stores

Women displaying huge diamond engagement rings.

People celebrating days that have been manufactured by Hallmark, like Grandparent’s Day

Everyday behaviours that keep patriarchy in power:

Women taking their husbands’ last names.

Fathers “giving away” their daughters during wedding ceremonies.

The use of words such as “man” as gender neutral.

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Comments
  1. A. Morris says:

    You haven’t quoted the source of your other information Elliott!

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