Argument of Hegemony

Topics: Marxism, Ideology, Karl Marx Pages: 8 (2763 words) Published: April 10, 2006
Question:In his development of the concept of hegemony, Gramsci is concerned to investigate, among other things, how a dominant class wins free consent of a subordinate class. Using his analysis, write an essay on how patriarchy might establish hegemony. Use no more than two religious traditions to provide concrete illustrations of your argument.

In order to understand Gramsci and the concept of hegemony, one has to look briefly at the work of Karl Marx. Marxism viewed everything in life as determined by capital. (Williams, R. 1977) The flow of money affects our relations with other people and the world surrounding us. Marx stated that everything around us, our activities and way of life is determined by economic content. According to Marxism, men find themselves born in a process independent of their will, they cannot control it, they can seek only to understand it and guide their actions accordingly. (Williams, R. 1977) The class struggle was an important part of Marxism. Marxism stated that society can only be understood in terms of a system where the dominant ideas are formulated by the ruling class to secure its control over the working class. (Williams, R. 1977) Due to exploitation, the working class will eventually try and change this situation through revolution producing its own ideas as well as its own industrial and political organization. Marx’s work is highly influenced by economic reasoning. He divides this economic reasoning into two levels, being the base and superstructure. The base is composed by the material production, money, objects, the relations of production and the stage of development of productive forces. (Williams, R. 1977) The superstructure is where we find the political and ideological institutions, our social relations, set of ideas; our cultures, hopes, dreams and spirit. (Williams, R. 1977) Both the base and superstructure are shaped by capital. While one could say that Marx was primarily concerned with the base and economic issues, Gramsci’s work seeks to focus on the superstructure and ideologies. For Gramsci, the class struggle must always involve ideas and ideologies. These ideas would lead to a revolution and to change. Gramsci tried to build a theory which recognized the autonomy, independence and importance of culture and ideology. (Ransome, P. 1992) Gramsci took the superstructure a step further when he divided it into institutions that were coercive and those that were not. The coercive ones, were basically the public institutions such as the government, police, armed forces and the legal system which he regarded as the state or political society and the non-coercive ones were the others such as the churches, the schools, trade unions, political parties, cultural associations, clubs and family, which he regarded as civil society. (Boggs, C. 1976) So for Gramsci, society was made up of the relations of production as well as the state or political society and civil society. Gramsci accepted the analysis of capitalism put forward by Marx and accepted that the struggle between the ruling class and the subordinate working class was the driving force that moved society forward. (Boggs, C. 1976) Gramsci did not agree with the notion put forward by Marx that the ruling class stayed in power solely because they had economic power. He thus introduced his own concept using ideology. Ideology is the shared ideas or beliefs which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups. (Boggs, C. 1976) Gramsci felt that ideological power kept the ruling class in power because it allowed them to brainwash and manipulate the rest of society. Ideology is the cohesive force which binds people together. Ideology, like hegemony must not only express the class interests of the capitalist or working class. Gramsci insists that ideology has a material nature in the social lives of individuals, as ideologies are embedded in communal modes of living and acting. (R. Simon, 1992) This means that...
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