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Sociologist in Focus: Antonio Gramsci (1)

Sarah Best

6th October 2017

Antonio Gramsci was born in Italy in 1891 and was the co-founder of the Italian Communist Party. He was imprisoned in 1928 for 20 years whilst serving as the party’s leader by Italy’s prime minister at the time, Benito Mussolini.

Whilst in prison, Gramsci kept himself busy and with the help of his sister he produced a number of works. However, his work wasn’t published until after he had died (at only age 46) in what are known as the ‘Prison Notebooks’. Whilst Karl Marx claimed that the bourgeoisie (ruling class) control the economic base in society and create the superstructure that enable them to control the proletariat (working class), Gramsci argued that control occurs through ‘ideological illusions’ produced by the ruling class.

The ruling class cannot control people through coercion alone, there must also be ideological control. Gramsci called this complex process ‘hegemony’, which simply put, is a means of class domination through persuading people that the ruling class’s ideas are just common sense.

More on Gramsci in Sociologist in Focus part 2 coming soon…

Sarah Best

Sarah is a passionate full-time Head of Sociology and Psychology and has worked in a variety in schools in the UK, and she is currently working in a British international school. She is keen to develop and boost the profile of both subjects.

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