Cultural Hegemony

Cultural hegemony seems to mean cultural domination. It is better thought of as Cultural imperialism because the meaning is clearer. In Gramsci's system it is Brainwashing. This got a bad press when the Soviets and Chinese were at it. Now that it is being done to us the term is not used any more. It does describe what the BBC, the media generally and the education industry are doing; using it as a tool to destroy civilization. Defining the words that may be used is just part of it.

The Wikipedia explains albeit at some length.

It is very much part and parcel of  Cultural imperialism and Cultural Genocide


Gramsci's theory of hegemony
The analysis of hegemony (or "rule") was formulated by Antonio Gramsci to explain why predicted communist revolutions had not occurred where they were most expected, in industrialized Europe. Marx and his followers had advanced the theory that the rise of industrial capitalism would create a huge working class and cyclical economic recessions. These recessions and other contradictions of capitalism would lead the overwhelming masses of people, the workers, to develop organizations for self-defence, including labour unions and political parties. Further recessions and contradictions would then spark the working class to overthrow capitalism in a revolution, restructure the economic, political, and social institutions on rational socialist models, and begin the transition towards an eventual communist society....... Although Marx and Engels had famously predicted this eschatological [ End Times ] scenario in 1848, many decades later the workers of the industrialized core still had not carried out the mission.

Gramsci argued that the failure of the workers to make an anti-capitalist revolution was due to the successful capture of the workers' ideology, self-understanding, and organizations by the hegemonic (ruling) culture. In other words, the perspective of the ruling class had been absorbed by the masses of workers. In "advanced" industrial societies hegemonic cultural innovations such as compulsory schooling, mass media, and popular culture had indoctrinated workers to a false consciousness. Instead of working towards a revolution that would truly serve their collective needs, workers in "advanced" societies were listening to the rhetoric of nationalist leaders, seeking consumer opportunities and middle-class status, embracing an individualist ethos of success through competition, and/or accepting the guidance of bourgeois religious leaders.

Gramsci therefore argued for a strategic distinction between a "war of position" and a "war of movement". The war of position is a culture war in which anti-capitalist elements seek to gain a dominant voice in mass media, mass organizations, and educational institutions to heighten class consciousness, teach revolutionary analysis and theory, and inspire revolutionary organization. Following the success of the war of position, communist leaders would be empowered to begin the war of movement, the actual insurrection against capitalism, with mass support.

Although the analysis of cultural domination was first advanced in terms of economic classes, it can be applied more broadly. Gramsci's analysis suggested that prevailing cultural norms should not be viewed as "natural" or "inevitable". Rather, cultural norms - including institutions, practices, beliefs - should be investigated for their roots in domination and their implications for liberation.

Gramsci did not contend that hegemony was either monolithic or unified. Instead, hegemony was portrayed as a complex layering of social structures. Each of these structures have their own “mission” and internal logic that allows its members to behave in a way that is different from those in different structures. Yet, as with an army, each of these structures assumes the existence of other structures and by virtue of their differing missions, is able to coalesce and produce a larger structure that has a larger overall mission. This larger mission usually is not exactly the same as the mission for each smaller structure, but it assumes and subsumes them. Hegemony works in the same manner. Each person lives their life in a way that is meaningful in their immediate setting, and, to this person the different parts of society may seem to have little in common with him. Yet taken as a whole, each person’s life also contributes to the larger hegemony of the society. Diversity, variation, and free will seem to exist since most people see what they believe to be a plethora of different circumstances, but they miss the larger pattern of hegemony created by the coalescing of these circumstances. Through the existence of small and different circumstances, a larger and layered hegemony is maintained yet not fully recognized by many of the people who live within it. (See Prison Notebooks, pp. 233-38.)

In such a layered hegemony, individual common sense, which is fragmented, is effective in helping people deal with small, everyday activities. But common sense also inhibits their ability to grasp the larger systemic nature of exploitation and hegemony. People focus on immediate concerns and problems rather than focusing upon more fundamental sources of social oppression. [ such as criminals like Blair and Brown who run Her Majesty's Government - Editor ]  

Influence of Gramsci
Although leftists may have been the primary users of this conceptual tool, the activities of organized conservative movements also draw upon the concept. This was seen, for instance, in evangelical Christian efforts to capture local school boards in the U.S. during the 1990s, and thus be able to dictate curriculum. Patrick Buchanan, in a widely discussed speech to the 1992 Republican Convention, used the term "culture war" to describe political and social struggle in the United States.

Theory about hegemonic culture has profoundly influenced Eurocommunism, the social sciences, and activist strategies. In social science the application of the concept of hegemony in the examination of major discourses (as by Michel Foucault) has become an important aspect of sociology, political science, anthropology, and other cultural studies. In education the concept has led to the development of critical pedagogy.


Errors & omissions, broken links, cock ups, over-emphasis, malice [ real or imaginary ] or whatever; if you find any I am open to comment.

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Updated  on Saturday, 06 September 2014 11:15:22