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Hegemony (pronounced he'jem.ə.ni or hə'dʒɛ.mə.ni) (Greek: ηγεμονία hēgemonía) is the dominance of one group over other groups, with or without the threat of force, to the extent that, for instance, the dominant party can dictate the terms of trade to its advantage; more broadly, cultural perspectives become skewed to favor the dominant group. The cultural control that hegemony asserts affects commonplace patterns of thought: hegemony controls the way new ideas are rejected or become naturalized in a process that subtly alters notions of common sense in a given society.

Hegemony results in the empowerment of certain cultural beliefs, values, and practices to the submersion and partial exclusion of others. Hegemony influences the perspective of mainstream history, as history is written by the victors for a congruent readership.


[edit] Theories of hegemony

Theories of hegemony attempt to explain how dominant groups or individuals (known as hegemons) can maintain their power -- the capacity of dominant classes to persuade subordinate ones to accept, adopt and internalize their values and norms. Antonio Gramsci devised one of the best-known accounts of hegemony. His theory defined the State by a mixture of coercion and hegemony, between which he drew distinctions; according to Gramsci, hegemony consists of political power that flows from intellectual and moral leadership, authority or consensus, as distinguished from mere armed force.

Recently, critical theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe have re-defined the term "hegemony" as a discursive strategy of combining principles from different systems of thought into one coherent ideology.

Hegemonically - A re-focus of the word hegemony. Explores the evolution of the word hegemony which can be simply defined as 'the prince-like use of'. Hegemonically is a contextual 21st century application to the traditional concept of hegemony, specific to the use of one's individual persona 'identity' by one's self. Hence, hegemonically, when used as an adverb, is a term used to denote the 'Prince-like use of one's own identity.' This modern definition explores how widespread access to information with the advent of new technology is redefining traditional, systemic, and hegemonic relationships.

[edit] Hegemonies in history

The word "hegemony" originated in ancient Greece and derives from the word hegeisthai (meaning "to lead"). An early example of hegemony during ancient Greek history occurred when Sparta became the hegemon of the Peloponnesian League in the 6th century BC. Later, in 337 BC, Philip II of Macedon became the personal Hegemon of the League of Corinth, a position he passed on to his son Alexander the Great.

In ancient China during the Eastern Zhou dynasty the Zhou kings appointed hegemons (known as "Ba"). This was due to the increasing chaos that resulted from the weakening of Zhou authority. The hegemons - initially from the powerful state of Jin - were men with sufficient strength to impose Zhou rule. In return they got prestige and legitimacy they would not otherwise enjoy. The office of hegemon had vanished by the time the last Zhou king was deposed in 256 BCE.

The term hegemon is also used to describe Japan's three unifiers in the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century. Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu each had different titles (and held many different posts during their lifetimes), but each had in common that they exercised hegemony over all or much of Japan (and in Hideyoshi's case much of Korea at one point). For ease of reference they are collectively referred to as the three hegemons or the three unifiers.

To the extent that hegemony appears as a cultural phenomenon, cultural institutions maintain it. The Medici maintained their hegemony in Tuscany through control of Florence's major guild, the Arte della Lana. Modern hegemonies also maintain themselves through cultural institutions, often with allegedly "voluntary" membership: the law abiding citizens or, arguably, the Teamsters in states without "right to work" laws — one might adduce countless modern associations.

The dominance of the British Empire during the 19th Century can be considered the first emergence of a global hegemon whose influence reached all over the globe. The hegemony, or dominance, of Britain during this period stemmed not only from its large military power on the seas, but also from its financial and ideological power in both its Empire (the colonies) and elsewhere.

In more recent times, analysts have used the term hegemony in a more abstract sense to describe the "proletarian dictatorships" of the 20th century, resulting in regional domination by local powers, or domination of the world by a global power. China's position of dominance in East Asia for most of its history offers an example of the regional hegemony.

The Cold War (1945 - 1990), with its main avenues of coercion — the Warsaw Pact led by the USSR and NATO led by the United States — often appears as a battle for hegemony. The details of the parties' respective ideologies have no relevance to whether they are hegemons: both sides featured superpowers (supported by their clients) battling to dominate the arms race and become the supreme world superpower. The details of the ideologies do come into play to the extent they determine how persuasive or efficient each hegemon is.

Since the end of the Cold War, analysts have used the term "hegemony" to describe the United States' role as the sole superpower (the hyperpower) in the modern world. However, some scholars of international relations (such as John Mearsheimer) argue that the United States does not have global hegemony, since it lacks the resources to impose dominance over the entire globe. Also, China, India, and the European Union are considered by some to be emerging superpowers capable of competing with the U.S in their own regions, and, in the case of the EU, worldwide.

[edit] Hegemony in fiction

The novel Valis by the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick treats the concept of hegemony as one aspect of what he calls the Black Iron Prison, a totalised system of social control.

Orson Scott Card used the title 'Hegemon' to describe the office of world leader taken by the fictional character Peter Wiggin, the brother of Andrew (Ender) Wiggin. The story of Peter's rise to dominance is (partly) told in the science fiction novel Ender's Game, and more fully in the 'Shadow' series. Peter uses his great intelligence and political savvy to manipulate public opinion by publishing under the pseudonym of "Locke". Peter forced his sister, Valentine Wiggin, to publish opposing viewpoints that were widely supported by the common people under the guise of "Demosthenes" in order to make his own case seem stronger in the eyes of the educated and political communities.

Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos also features an interstellar society called 'The Hegemony of Man'. The Hegemony includes all of the several hundred planets colonized by the human race, as well as space stations and outlying colonies. The Hegemony funds and maintains an interplanetary military/police entity called FORCE, and two hundred or so Hegemony planets are linked together by the farcaster network to comprise the WorldWeb. The TechnoCore and the Ousters are not included in the Hegemony.

In Battletech, there is an interstellar government called the Terran Hegemony, lasting from the early 24th century to the late 28th century. The government is more akin to a constitutional monarchy than anything else.

In Star Control 3, the player struggled against the Hegemonic Crux, a hegemony of races dominated by the Ploxis, an intelligent, bird-like race of aliens.

[edit] Geography of hegemonies

Geopolitics influences hegemonies. Ancient hegemonies developed in fertile river valleys (an example of hydraulic despotism): Egypt, China and the succession of states in Mesopotamia. In China during the Warring States Era the state of Qin created artificial waterways (such as the Chengkuo Canal) in order to give itself an advantage over its neighbouring rival states. Hegemonic successor states in Eurasia tended to cluster around the Middle East for a period, using either the sea (Greece) or the fringe lands (Persia, Arabia). The focus of European hegemony moved west to Rome, then northwards to the Franks and the Holy Roman Empire. The Atlantic seaboard had its heyday (Spain, France, Britain) before the fringes of the European cultural area took over in the twentieth century (United States, Soviet Union).

Today's most dominant hegemony is constituted of the dominant classes of the United States, consisting of the more powerful politicians and government bureaucrats, international corporations, and military. This hegemony is maintained by global media corporations (such as Time-Warner, Newscorp, etc), by international trade agreements and financial institutions (such as the WTO and the World Bank), and by military and monetary support given to other states by the United States government.

Some regions show continually fluctuating areas of regional hegemony: India, for example, or the Balkans. Other regions show relative stability: northern China offers a case in point.

Long-lived hegemonies (China, Pax Sinica; Rome, Pax Romana) offer a contrast to shorter dominations: the Mongol Empire or Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

[edit] Resistance and survival

Conrad Phillip Kottak, in Window on Humanity (2004), explains hegemony in terms of ideologies that offer explanations about why the existing order is in everyone's interest. Many things are promised, but are said to take time and patience in order for them to happen.

One good way to keep the people away from oppression would be by telling people that they will eventually gain power in the near future. In most cultures it is seen that the young respect their parents; therefore they let their elders decide what they want to do because of the great respect they have towards them.

[edit] See also

[edit] Hegemony

[edit] Power

[edit] Other related concepts

[edit] External links

cs:Hegemonie da:Hegemoni de:Hegemonie es:Hegemonía eo:Hegemonio he:הגמוניה nl:Hegemonie no:Hegemoni pl:Hegemonia pt:Hegemonia ru:Гегемония sr:Хегемонија fi:Hegemonia sv:Hegemoni uk:Гегемонія zh:霸权主义


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