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Archive for the ‘Hegemony Theory’ Category

In the last posting, I introduced an Italian philosopher and political theorist Gramsci’s idea, ‘Hegemony’ to explain the phenomena that people are controlled by the media such as TV and newspaper even in this modern society. According to his argument, the reason why the revolution against the Capitalism that many Marxism theorists predicted as it happened didn’t occur is that a bourgeois exercises not only the visible violence or political and economical pressure over the other group of society but also the cultural and ideological propaganda to draw people’s spontaneous consent. Here is the additional explanation about Hegemony from Wikipedia.

Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological concept, originated by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated by one of its social classes. It is the dominance of one social group over another, i.e. the ruling class over all other classes. The ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.

Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological concept, originated by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated by one of its social classes. It is the dominance of one social group over another, i.e. the ruling class over all other classes. The ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.

 

In my home, South Korea, there was a big issue about the corruption in Samsung Company (For your information, Samsung is a Korean company, not Japanese or USA). A lawyer who worked in the company and retired informed a lot of corruption which has happened in the company secretly for its interest to the press. It became a hot potato in the country very quickly because for the most of Korean people, Samsung has been very significant (Samsung is the only company in Korea which put their advertising at the Time Square in New York City).

So, the public opinion was separated into two branches. Some people argued that the government must take a very strong action to fix the corruption happened in the company. But other people started to blame the lawyer who reported all these facts to the media. They insisted that if something bad happened in the Samsung, it would be harmful to whole the country, Korea. How did they think like that way? Is that because they all worked in the company? Of course not. There were various kinds of people who worked in different field of the society.

As you can guess, there was the media in front of the company. Of course, there were many spectrums dealing with that issue, but the thing is that the ‘major’ press made news supporting the Samsung. They said if Samsung got a bad image because of that uncertain rumor of corruption – but, actually it was quiet obvious though, the economy of Korea would have critical damage. I think it might be a good example explaining how Hegemony works in our real lives. Through this example, you can see how the media and a big company cooperate with each other skillfully.

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In the past, there was a dominant communication theory that explains the relationship between media and the public. It is called ‘Stimulus – Response theory’ or S-R theory, and it said that the media had a very powerful and direct impact on the people watching TV or reading a newspaper. In other words, when people watch the television, their ideas are very easily manipulated by the media. According to this theory, an audience is passive, dependent and vulnerable, which means that the way they view the world is very depending on the perspective of the media.

However, in these days it appears that this theory is no longer outstanding. Above all, S-R theory underestimated the public’s potential capabilities of criticizing the media. As people are well-educated, they begin watching the media very carefully. They notice that some media are biased and it could be very dangerous.

The internet also plays a very important role in making people aware of the possible danger of the biased media. Through this new public sphere, people realize that the facts they believed as a firmed truth could be changed when they are seen from the other perspective of view. As I told you before, TV and newspaper was the only public source of the information. But, now people can get more various and diverse information that they need on the Internet whenever they want.

Because of such reasons, it seems that it’s hard for the media to manipulate the idea of audience in the way they have used so far. However, it’s also true that the main media sources such as TV and newspaper are still powerful and have a great impact on people’s behavior in every single day.  Why? Why is it still influential? There might be a lot of reasons for it, but today I want to introduce you one interesting theory to explain this phenomena; Hegemony by Antonio Gramsci.

Here is the definition of ‘Hegemony’ by the Wikipedia:

Hegemony (Greek: ἡγεμονία hēgemonía, English: [UK] /hɨˈɡɛməni/, [US]: pronounced /hɨˈdʒɛməni/; “leadership” or “hegemon” for “leader”) [1] is the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups, regardless of the explicit consent of the latter. While initially referring to the political dominance of certain ancient Greek city-states over their neighbors, the term has come to be used in a variety of other contexts, in particular Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci‘s theory of cultural hegemony.

The most important part of this idea, I think, is that there is the ‘explicit consent’ of the ruled class. When a dominant group spread some ideologies that benefit them, they always insist that it benefits everyone. But, it’s not true at all. Because the other group believes that it’s really helpful to all of them, they don’t resist against it. I might say that’s why and how the biased media works to the public.

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