Hegemony: a theory of national-popular class politics

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This chapter explores Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony arguing it is a theory of national-popular class politics aimed at illuminating how the achievement of state power and socio-economic transformation can only be secured by mobilising and winning the consent of the masses through a strategy of “national-popular” political and ideological alliance in civil society. I examine three essential aspects of the theory: the conditions of hegemonic struggle conceived as a dynamic field of “relations of force”; the apparatus of hegemony constituted by parties, states, civil society and intellectuals; and the politics of hegemony involving a political and ideological campaign for mass consent among the “national-popular” masses. The chapter demonstrates how Gramsci’s concepts illuminate the success and failures of capitalist and socialist hegemonic strategies. I conclude by suggesting that contemporary interpretations and applications of hegemony in social scientific research need to give greater weight to its holistic, class-based and “national-popular” character.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx
EditorsMatt Vidal, Tomás Rotta, Tony Smith, Paul Prew
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190695545
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2018


  • Gramsci
  • hegemony
  • class
  • national-popular
  • international politics


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