“Intellectuals” in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks: An Active Relationship As a Key Concept

Friday, July 18, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Tomihisa SUZUKI , Sociology, Momoyama Gakuin University, Japan
In Prison Notebooks (written between1929-35), Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) – an Italian Marxist theorist – reconstructed the notion of intellectuals in the process of reconstituting the Marxist “class” concept. What are “intellectuals” in the theoretical world of Gramsci? And how did Gramsci theorize intellectuals and their roles in modern society? My presentation first introduces how Gramsci and his work have been studied and contributed to sociological theoretical research in Japan and then illustrates how his writings in his Prison Notebooks located intellectuals and active relationship constructions. Content analyses of Prison Notebooks reveal that the logical foundation for his understanding intellectuals was the reconstructed concept of “man” or human being which was formed by active relationships. This study shows Gramsci’s belief that there was no “man” who was not intellectual; therefore, all the human beings are indeed the intellectual. Yet, not everybody plays the socially organizing functional role of an intellectual. The active relationships of the ordinary people most of the time have individual characteristics; on the contrary, intellectuals create and engage in socially active relationships which are in any of the economic, social, cultural, and political field. Therefore, I argue that Gramsci advanced Marx’s social class theory by focusing on intellectuals and their hegemonic social engagements in which the socially active relationship plays a crucial role in society. This paper contributes to our sociological understanding of Gramsci, his theoretical roots, and commonalities with the Marxist and other theoretical traditions.