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Antonio Gramsci’s Theory of the Civil Society

  • Andrea Mubi Brighenti
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer Reference Sozialwissenschaften book series (SRS)

Abstract

This article focuses on one relatively under-researched notion in Gramsci’s cultural theory, namely the notion of civil society. Civil society is a direct expression of hegemony, which Gramsci famously theorised as a pattern of established power relations among social groups in a given historical political situation. In Gramsci’s view, hegemony is not simply a matter of domination because it also requires “direction”, that is, headship or consensual leadership. With Gramsci, hegemony stretches beyond the pure “economic-corporative” level, being supplemented by a veritable “ethical-political” layer. In this context, the civil society features simultaneously an object of conquest, a battlefield among different social and political groups, and the outcome of a given configuration of forces in a specific historic context. Civil society is also intimately linked to the production, circulation and consumption of discourses and myths; its constitution, in other words, is ideological. Gramsci took ideology seriously arguing that, to become operative, critical ideas must make their way into in people’s everyday existence. As a consequence, common sense – the domain of ideas and discourses as they exist in the everyday – emerges as the real battlefield for any political project.

Keywords

Civil Society Hegemony Corporatism Ideology Culture Intellectuals Common Sense Liberalism Neoliberalism Voluntarism VS Determinism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca SocialeUniversità di TrentoTrentoItalien

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