Hegemony

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Lets define hegemony

Hegemony is a term that denotes the power and supremacy of a strong state over weaker states or populations. The word ‘hegemony’ comes from Greek and means ‘command’. Due to the unequal power balance of hegemony, the hegemonic state often exercises unjustified control and dominance over the oppressed party.

Hegemony definition and dictionary meaning

In practice, hegemony can be defined as a political, economic or military superpower of a state over other states. In ancient Greece, the hegemony denounced city-states’ political-military dominance over other city states. The dominant state was called  ‘hegemon’.

In the 19th century, hegemony was used in particular to describe the social and cultural supremacy and superiority of more wealthy social groups over others. Hegemony definition also denote the undue influence and control of populations and regimes in a society. In addition, hegemony may be defined as the geopolitical and cultural dominance of one country over one or more other countries.

Hegemony through time

Within the social sciences, hegemony is the name of a theory that describes how the world’s great powers have attempted to establish their own hegemony over other parts of the world throughout history. Former hegemonic superpowers could be expressed as Great Britain, France, Holland, Italy and Portugal. They occupied various dominant positions in the world from the 16th century to 20th century. During this period, these countries incorporated new international territories into their existing empires. This made them strong, dominant colonial powers. Such a powerful territorial possession was called imperialism.

In recent times, many community theorists have emphasized US relations with the Western world, immediately after World War II, as hegemonic. Europe accepted the hegemonic relationship because the United States constituted a powerful counterpart to another growing hegemony, namely the Soviet Union (today’s Russia). So, even if the United States and Western Europe competed with each other about the greatest possible political and economic influence, they also shared the interest in combating against the threat of communist Soviet Union. Today, the United States can be addressed as the only real hegemony in the world, even though the country is far from performing the same dominance as it did in the post-war period until 1990s.  However, the United States is increasingly gaining competition from emerging industrialized countries such as China, Japan, Brazil and India whose economies have drastically grown. These countries are expected to have much more impact on international policy in the near future.

Societal Theorem

In the early 1900’s, Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci developed a theory of cultural and economic dominance. This theory conveyed the idea that more prosperous social classes have cultural dominance over weaker classes.

Gramsci was Marxist, therefore his cultural hegemony theory also exists within the Marxist community description. The Marxist theory of cultural hegemony is the idea that the ruling class can manipulate the system of values ​​and norms in a society so that their perception automatically becomes the common world view (world empire).

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