This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Please check back later for the full article.
Hegemony generally refers to the mechanisms and dynamics describing how a determinate group comes to organize its ruling at multiple levels, such as political economic, social, cultural, and linguistic. In communication studies, the term is almost automatically associated to the particular conceptualization of Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci, who provides a way to describe and explore the critical link between “power,” culture, and communicative practices. However, different readings of Gramscian hegemony, mediated by different traditions inside the discipline, have produced competing and evolving definitions of hegemony. The common trait of all these approaches is an interpretation that tends to privilege “consent” over “coercion,” “leadership” over “domination,” and “civil society” over the “state.” The concept gradually moved away from its Marxist origin to become a much more sociologically abstract account of organized asymmetric power relations.