In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hegemony

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies and Anthologies
  • Journals and Reference Resources
  • Etymology

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Communication Hegemony
Andrew Calabrese, Marco Briziarelli
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 September 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0071


The term “hegemony” refers to a socially determined category that describes mechanisms and dynamics associated with power, and which is grounded in historically situated social practice. Hegemony accounts for the social power of one class over the others as a combination of leadership and domination. However, such power is never completely attained, since hegemony also accounts for the unresolved tension between dominant and alternative ideologies. Like many other important concepts used to describe aspects of the modern condition, hegemony represents a key point of departure, passage, and arrival for much of contemporary social and political theory. The concept has been used since the time of the ancient Greek polis, but contemporary accounts of hegemony most often rely on the thought of one of the 20th century’s most influential social philosophers: Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci’s imprint is so strong that it remains either explicitly referenced or implicitly inscribed in nearly all contemporary analyses that employ the idea of hegemony, which is evident below.

Bibliographies and Anthologies

The following list of bibliographies and anthologies is dedicated specifically to Gramsci’s lived experience. Gramsci 1994 and Gramsci 1954 account for Gramsci’s less well-known early life and writings. Gramsci 1975, Gramsci 1973, and Gramsci 1971 focus on Gramsci’s prison experience under Mussolini’s dictatorship. Finally the list also includes intellectual biographies such as Davidson 1977, Fiori 1970, and Marzani 1957, which combine personal life details of Gramsci with explications of his ideas, thus enabling a better understanding of hegemony.

  • Davidson, Alastair. 1977. Antonio Gramsci: Towards an intellectual biography. London: Merlin.

    Valuable effort to understand Gramsci within his political and historical context. It also contains a good bibliography that combines a chronological treatment of events and an organic treatment of ideas.

  • Fiori, Giuseppe. 1970. Antonio Gramsci: Life of a revolutionary. Translated by Tom Nairn. London: NLB.

    Fiori offers an insightful account of the cultural shock that marked Gramsci so much and became the motivational thrust behind the concept of hegemony: for instance, his childhood in rural Sardinia affected his sensibility about the poverty in southern Italy and also the revolts in Turin during World War I (during the so-called Two Red years, 1919–1920).

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1954. L’ordine nuovo: 1919–1920. Turin, Italy: Einaudi.

    Fascism has always been considered the pivotal historical event that shaped Gramsci’s life and work. However, equally important is the so called biennio rosso (two red years) of 1919–1920. This is the collection of leading opinion articles from the newspaper Ordine Nuovo that witnesses and reflects on this revolutionary period in Italy.

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the prison notebooks. Edited and translated by Quintin Hoare and N. Geoffrey Smith. London, Lawrence and Wishart.

    The most widely used and most often-cited anthology from Gramsci’s prison notes. For this reason, the translation has become the standard when quoting Gramsci.

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1973. Letters from prison. Edited and translated by Lynn Lawner. New York and London: Harper and Row.

    Gramsci’s letters from prison, specifically to his sister Tatania, are considered a very important resource for anyone interested in understanding the more personal motivation behind concepts such as hegemony and its relevance to Gramsci’s overall intellectual project.

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1975. Quaderni dal carcere. Edited by Valentino Gerratana. Turin, Italy: Einaudi.

    There are many reasons to read an author in his/her own original language. In Gramsci’s instance it is even more important since there are certain idiomatic expressions that cannot be easily translated into other languages.

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1992. Prison notebooks. Edited by Joseph A. Buttigieg; translated by Antoino Callari. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

    A complete translation of the Quaderni (notebooks), comprising four volumes. It is a much more faithful transposition of the original than Hoare and Smith’s selection (Gramsci 1971). The text is less accessible, but it is complete, which allows the English reader to have an almost firsthand encounter with the author. This is the text in English that better exemplifies the difficulty of providing a systematic reading of Gramsci’s thought.

  • Gramsci, Antonio. 1994. Pre-prison writings. Edited by Richard Bellamy; translated by Virginia Cox. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    There are important aspects of Gramsci’s early experience, both as a journalist and political activist, that help explain the historic and political context for his reflections on hegemony. This collection is a valuable resource, especially the articles taken from the newspaper Ordine Nuovo.

  • Marzani, Carl. 1957. The open Marxism of Antonio Gramsci. New York: Cameron Association.

    Focuses on the trajectory of both Gramsci’s life as an activist and as a theorist and how those two united in one life experience. This book constitutes one of the first publications in English that clearly situates Gramsci within the historical legacy of Marxism.

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