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Sociologist in Focus: Antonio Gramsci (2)

Sarah Best

13th October 2017

Gramsci argued that hegemony is an invisible mechanism and the ruling class’s ideas permeate the whole of society, i.e., they are unquestioned and become normalised through constant exposure particularly for the working class.

However, Gramsci did not believe that hegemony goes unchallenged. Gramsci called this ‘counter-hegemony’, whereby in some societies (such as in the West) ruling class ideology is questioned. For example, this could occur after a recession, which leads to high levels of unemployment. Gramsci argued that the ruling class face constant challenges in capitalist societies due to the economic system itself but he challenges the economic determinism of traditional Marxism.

Gramsci and his work is generally covered within Theory and Methods in Year 2, but his ideas could be used to provide an analysis of economic events such as the 2008 world financial crash and links to political regimes. Much like Marx, Gramsci’s work has as much relevance today as he did during the time of writing. 

The first article in this series about Gramsci can be found here.

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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