Gramsci (1930) “History of the Subaltern Classes” “Ideology” “Ideological Material”


gramsci_pd

Link to Summary

Former leader of the Communist Party in Italy, these papers were written while he was jailed for opposing Mussolini. He wondered why peasants and labourers would vote for a Fascist leader and introduced the concept of hegemony.

Hegemony – Intellectual and moral leadership achieved by consent, not coercion. The institutions of civil society (media, education, religions etc.) function to reproduce hegemony with the consent of the subaltern/subordinate groups.

(i) History of the Subaltern Classes: Describes a historical method for understanding how the subaltern classes are formed.   Social groups come to power in two ways 1) Domination – military and police control, and 2) Intellectual and Moral leadership – ideological control, given by consent (hegemony)

(ii) The Concept of Ideology: Ideology is a superstructure.  Marx and Engels argue that structures produce ideology but that would mean that ideology has no ability to influence the superstructure. Some ideologies are arbitrary and others are “historically organic”. Historically organic are necessary to a given structure and they are more valid because they are psychologically ingrained.

(iii) Culture Themes: Ideological Material: Ideology is maintained, defended and developed through media, press and culture. Library, schools, architecture, clubs etc. also play a role in influencing public opinion. This needs to be studied in order to understand the underlying social forces and provide resources for resistance.

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