This concept is to be understood in the context of Karl Marx's historical materialism. It refers to the ideal representation of the interests of the ruling-class as universal interests. The cumulative nature of the universalization of ideas not only broadens the scope of each ruling-class hegemony but at the same time sharpens the conflict between it and each subsequent ascendant class until such a time as a class (the proletariat ) emerges which really does represent the universal interest. According to Marx, each ruling class does actually represent a broader range of interests than its predecessors, by providing (for example) avenues of social mobility into a higher class; hence, it comes to power not only on the illusion of the common interest, but also because it does in fact serve a broader range of interests. Likewise, the ideas which express the dominant material relationships within and between classes also take a firmer grip, and for that reason are all the more embedded, providing no obvious alternatives. However, in due course the specific class interests of the ruling class become apparent, demanding a more radical negation for its transcendence.
The major vehicle for bourgeois hegemony is civil society . Antonio Gramsci locates hegemony within the role of the ‘private’ or non-state levels of superstructure, distinguishing this social hegemony from the use of force, as the principal means of maintaining social order in capitalist societies. Seen in Weberian terms, it would correspond to the ‘myth of natural superiority’, or the legitimating of a status order. It is, in short, the manufacturing of consent. Cultural hegemony, which is generally identified as the major dimension of this manipulation, involves the production of ways of thinking and seeing, and of excluding alternative visions and discourses . For that same reason it is difficult to identify what are non-hegemonic modes of reasoning and penetrative analysis, especially since hegemony permeates all of the levels distinguished in Marx's schema, from the basic items of labour-power and capital , through the connections of commodity fetishism , into the fractions of classes and politics. According to Marxists, therefore, hegemony has to be confronted at every level. The same conceptual as well as methodological strictures as apply to false consciousness and its transcendence must be applied in the case of hegemony.
The sociological significance of the concept, and some idea of its use in empirical research on ideology , is demonstrated in, ‘Hegemony and Consciousness in the Thought of Antonio Gramsci’, Political Studies (1975).

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • Hegemony — (pronEng|hɨˈdʒɛməni (Amer.), IPA|/hɨˈɡɛməni/ (Brit.)) [Clive Upton, Wiliam A. Kretzschmar, Rafal Konopka: Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English . Oxford University Press, 2001] ( el. ἡγεμονία hēgemonía ) is a concept that has… …   Wikipedia

  • Hegemony — He*gem o*ny, n. [Gr. ?, fr. ? guide, leader, fr. ? to go before.] Leadership; preponderant influence or authority; usually applied to the relation of a government or state to its neighbors or confederates. Lieber. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hegemony — I noun ascendance, ascendancy, authority, command, control, directorship, dominance, domination, dominion, governance, headship, importance, influence, lawful authority, leadership, lordship, mastery, paramountcy, power, predominance,… …   Law dictionary

  • hegemony — 1560s, from Gk. hegemonia leadership, a leading the way, a going first; also the authority or sovereignty of one city state over a number of others, as Athens in Attica, Thebes in Boeotia; from hegemon leader, from hegeisthai to lead, perhaps… …   Etymology dictionary

  • hegemony — meaning ‘political leadership of a group of states’, is pronounced hi jem ǝ ni or hi gem ǝ ni, with the g either hard or soft and with the stress on the second syllable …   Modern English usage

  • hegemony — ► NOUN ▪ dominance, especially by one state or social group over others. DERIVATIVES hegemonic adjective. ORIGIN Greek h gemonia, from h gem n leader …   English terms dictionary

  • hegemony — [hi jem′ə nē; hej′ə mō΄nē, hē′jəmō΄nē] n. pl. hegemonies [Gr hēgemonia, leadership < hēgemōn, leader < hēgeisthai, to lead, go on ahead < IE base * sāg , to track down > SAKE1, SEEK] leadership or dominance, esp. that of one state or… …   English World dictionary

  • Hegemony —    A key concept developed by Antonio Gramsci in his Prison Notebooks (1929–1935), hegemony refers to the domination achieved by a ruling class through force and, more importantly, through moral and intellectual leadership and alliances with… …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

  • hegemony — noun Etymology: Greek hēgemonia, from hēgemōn leader, from hēgeisthai to lead more at seek Date: 1567 1. preponderant influence or authority over others ; domination < battled for hegemony in Asia > 2. the social, cultural, ideological, or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hegemony — noun /hɪˈɡɛm.ə.ni,hɪˈdʒəm.ə.ni,həˈdʒɛm.ə.ni,ˈhɛdʒ.(ə).moʊ.ni/ a) Domination, influence, or authority over another, especially by one political group over a society or by one nation over others. ie: internationally among nation states, and… …   Wiktionary

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