Hegemony and the hidden persuaders the power of un-common sense



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hegemony (1) Since the 19th century a term that has been used especially to describe the predominance of one state over others, eg the French hegemony over Europe in the time of Napoleon. By extension, hegemonism is used to describe 'great power' policies aimed at establishing such a preponderance, a use close to one of the meanings of imperialism.
(2) In the writings of some 20th century Marxists (especially the Italian Gramsci) it is used to denote the preponderance of one social class over others eg in the term bourgeois hegemony.
The feature which this usage stresses is not only the political and economic control exercised by a dominant class but its success in projecting its own particular way of seeing the world, human and social relationships, so that this is accepted as 'common sense' and part of the natural order by those who are in fact subordinated to it.
From this it follows that revolution is seen not only as the transfer of political and economic power but as the creation of an alternative hegemony through new forms of experience and consciousness. This is different from the more familiar Marxist view that change in the economic base is what matters and that change in the superstructure is a reflection of this; instead the struggle for hegemony is seen as a primary and even decisive factor in radical change, including change in the economic base itself.

[Alan Bullock & Stephen Trombley (1988) The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought]

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