Hegemony

Hegemony is a way to describe people or ideas that become—and seek to remain—dominant in society. The development of the term “hegemony” in media studies follows the work of Antonio Gramsci (1971) and Stuart Hall (1973/1980, 1982, 1996), and generally refers to “soft” rather than “hard” power. Gramsci and Hall were concerned with the way in which certain groups and ideologies maintain their power in democratic societies. They were interested in dominance achieved by consent rather than by force, maintained by ideology rather than repression. In this context, hegemony’s tools are words, images, rituals, and practices rather than weapons, courts, and prisons. Indeed, Hall’s interest in the media stems from his view that, in modern democracies, media and cultural forms are central to the maintenance—or disruption—of hegemony.

Hegemony is not merely a description but a process, one that makes the dominance of certain groups or ideas in society seem normal, …

This essay may be found on page 88 of the printed volume.

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