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Understanding Hegemony

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 26, 2002
Latest Update: September 11, 2005

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Index of Topics on Site Antonio Gramsci and Hegemony

From Hegemony: Methods and Hypotheses, A Historical-Comparative Perspective by Rares Piloiu

". . .first conceptualized by Georgii V. Plekhanov and Pavel Axelrod, hegemony referred strictly to the domination of the social sphere by the working class, which was supposed to reach a "hegemonic" position at the end of the given historical cycle. In Gramsci, however, the term is used for any type of domination (determined by class or not), under the condition that domination is, nevertheless, subject to changes produced by the mass pressures exerted from below."

The concept of hegemony is related to the concept we often discuss of dominant discourse, what everybody knows, the discourse we've been indoctrinated to. So when we speak of changing the dominant discourse, we are talking of coming together to change some of the positions that we have simply passively accepted from the ruling group, without considering the worker's and poor and middle class interests in the evergrowing wealth gap and value positions.

One of the scary things about dominant discourse and hegemony is that we accept it almost unconsciously. We are almost never going to find that the interests of legislators and politicians are going to coincide with the interests of the large mass of the population. We don't have to accept either the right or the left, as they present themselves over the media or in their political programs. We need to join together as humans, with a loving orientation to our context, and consider what really is in our interest, collectively, and what our values are. Keeping us underpaid, underemployed, and overworked is one way of preventing our undertaking this major charge of governance discourse. jeanne