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Ideology & Hegemony
Transcript of Ideology & Hegemony
What natural-seeming cultural assumptions exist in the text?
What power relations in society might underlie such assumptions?
What is made obscure by these assumptions? Ideologies are ‘false’ ideas that become ‘naturalised’ and support those in power. What Marx called “false consciousness” is the end product of the process of hegemony. Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci tried to understand why people were attracted to fascism. He developed a theory of ideology called HEGEMONY. According to Gramsci, hegemony is the ruling class’s domination through ideology and the shaping of popular consent. Hegemony unites persuasion from above with consent from below. Ideologies therefore are like a pair of glasses through which we experience the world, our place in it, and every media text we encounter. “Common sense’ is the way a subordinate class lives out its subordination.” -A. Gramsci Take slavery, for example. Many media texts celebrate ideologically specific notions of beauty (thin, youthful, pale skin, etc.) and femininity. We also see the ideology of consumerism and the commodification of body shape in texts like this one. But these notions of beauty, sexiness and even feminity are socially manufactured ideologies, specific to particular cultures and moments in history Why does a photograph of public nudity seem so strange? Because it clashes with what we understand as 'natural,' 'proper,' and 'right.' It's ideologically alien to us. That's why an advertisement like this makes sense to us. We share a common ideology with its creators that public nudity is forbidden. Here we understand the meaning of this text through the use of many ideologies:
Our shared understanding of 'beauty'
The agreed-upon sexual nature of nudity (even the suggestion of nudity)
Ideological definitions of feminity
An ideology that defines men as sexual creatures whose desire for a femme fatal can overwhelm them under any circumstances What ideological meaning do we take from these texts to understand what a 'woman' is? Dominated classes participate in their domination, as hegemony enters into everything people do and think of as natural, ‘common sense’ — including what is news, as well as playing, working, believing, and knowing. Hegemony is secured when those who control the dominant institutions impress their semiotic definitions upon the ruled. The dominant class controls ideological space and limits what is thinkable in society.