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The hegemony is the concept used in History and Political Sciences. The understanding of the term requires the review of the historians and political scientists’ work on the topic. The aim of this essay is to analyze the article On Hegemony and Direct Rule by Antonio Gramsci.
The subject of the article
The article On Hegemony and Direct Rule by Antonio Gramsci is devoted to the concept of hegemony in the context of social stratification. There are different views on the meaning of the term. Some scholars argue that it is “clear, acknowledged leadership by one within a community of units not under a single authority” (Scheidel 4).
Others consider this concept in the context of the policy of the state. It is claimed that Immanuel Wallerstein gives the strongest definition of the term (Scheidel 4). According to him, hegemony is “a situation in which one state is able to impose its set of rules on the interstate system, and thereby creates temporarily a new political order” (Scheidel 4). Wallerstein explains that this state gains advantages from political pressure (Scheidel 4).
In contrast to these opinions, Gramsci explains the concept from the standpoint of social stratification. He emphasizes that the social structure can be broadly divided into two main substructures: the civil society represented by the private sector and the political society or the State represented by the public sector (Gramsci 39).
Gramsci says that the hegemony originates from the State. However, it is the ruling class which exercises it over society (Gramsci 39). The intellectuals are the representatives of the ruling class, which is directed by the State. This ruling class directs the masses. “The “apparatus” of the State legally ensures the discipline of those groups”(Gramsci 39). It means that the State applies a direct rule. It should be emphasized that, under the ruling class, the author understands the group of people controlling the means of production.
The article On Hegemony and Direct Rule by Antonio Gramsci represents an alternative view on the concept of hegemony. In comparison with the definitions of the concept given by other scholars, the explication presented by Gramsci is focused on the social constituent of the concept.
The historians claim that hegemony means the political and ideological pressure of the State. Gramsci broadens this view saying that this pressure is accomplished through the ruling class. The State is in a position to apply the direct rule but the ruling class has the power to direct the masses.
Antonio Gramsci is considered to be a follower of Carl Marx. He explains the term of social stratification on the basis of the relative degree of control over the means of production which each social group possesses (Davidson 6). He stresses that the function and awareness of the intellectuals or the ruling class can be determined not only in the economic field but also in the social and political ones (Davidson 6).
In my opinion, Antonio Gramsci gives an interesting view on the concept of hegemony. His explication of the term is deeper as he explains how the hegemony of the ruling class is accomplished.
In order to summarize all above mentioned, it should be said that the article On Hegemony and Direct Rule by Antonio Gramsci uncovers the concept of hegemony from the standpoint of social stratification. According to the view of the author, the hegemony is exercised by the ruling class, whereas the direct rule is applied by the State.
Davidson, Alastair. “Gramsci, hegemony, and Globalization.” Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 20.2 (2005): 4-36. Print.
Gramsci, Antonio. “On Hegemony and Direct Rule.” In Orientalism: A Reader by A. L Macfie. 39-40. New York: New York University Press, 2000. Print.
Scheidel, Walter 2006. Republics between hegemony and empire: How ancient city-states built empires and the USA doesn’t (anymore). PDF file. 5 Nov. 2013. http://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/scheidel/020601.pdf