Cultural Hegemony – in Marxist philosophy

Cultural Hegemony – in Marxist philosophy

Cultural hegemony is a concept derived from the work of Italian Marxist philosopher and theorist Antonio Gramsci. In Marxist theory, is the ruling class’s dominance of a culturally diverse society by manipulating its culture—beliefs and explanations, perceptions, values, and mores—so that the ruling class’s worldview becomes the accepted cultural norm. It refers to the domination or influence that one cultural group, frequently the ruling or dominant class, has over society’s values, beliefs, customs, and behaviors.

This domination is attained through the propagation of its own culture, which subsequently becomes the dominant and accepted cultural norm, effectively moulding the entire society’s viewpoint. The ruling-class worldview, as the worldwide dominating ideology, misrepresents the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, and perpetual social conditions that benefit all social classes, rather than artificial social constructs that benefit primarily the ruling class.

Here are some key points to understand cultural hegemony:

  • Origin: Antonio Gramsci developed the concept of cultural hegemony in the early 20th century as part of his broader theory of how ruling classes maintain their power in society.
  • Ideological Control: Cultural hegemony involves not just political or economic control but also ideological control. It is about the imposition of a dominant ideology that becomes so deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness that it seems natural and unchallengeable.
  • Media and Education: The media, educational institutions, and other cultural institutions play a significant role in perpetuating cultural hegemony. The dominant group uses these institutions to shape and control the narratives and values of society.
  • Consent and Coercion: According to Gramsci, cultural hegemony is based on both consent and compulsion. While some people may willingly adopt the dominant culture’s beliefs and norms, coercion or force is also utilized to preserve this dominance.
  • Resistance: Gramsci also realized that cultural hegemony is not total, and that resistance and counter-hegemonic forces are always possible. Subordinate groups can strive to build their own cultural values and ideas while challenging the prevailing culture.

The denotations and implications of the term cultural hegemony in philosophy and sociology stem from the Ancient Greek word hegemonia (v), which implies the hegemon’s rule and régime.

Hegemony is the geopolitical dominance exercised by an empire, with the hegemon (leader state) ruling the empire’s subordinate states through the threat of intervention, an implied means of power, rather than through the threat of direct rule—military invasion, occupation, and territorial annexation.

To summarize, cultural hegemony is a complicated term that investigates how dominant groups in society develop and dominate a community’s culture and values, typically through a combination of consent and coercion. It emphasizes the power of culture in upholding social hierarchy as well as the possibility of resistance and change.