Hegemony – Stabilizing Supremacy

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Diana LENGERSDORF, University of Bielefeld, Germany
Tanja JECHT, University of Bielefeld, Germany
In the theory of power by Max Weber “hegemony” is introduced as a form of power through constellations of interest – if only to distinguish his own concept from it. Almost at the same time Antonio Gramsci put the concept of “hegemony” in the centre of his research marking it to be the central form of power in early Fordist societies. He was especially interested in how supremacy could be maintained through the continuous production of approval and consent – not being imposed through violence and force. Since this early development there is a vital discussion about “hegemony” in diverse disciplines. In sociology the term is particularly connected with the concept of hegemonic masculinity. It is instructive to notice that within these sociological debates the political philosophical tradition of the concept of hegemony is not problematized, although it is a (methodological) challenge for research.

After starting our talk with a brief introduction and problematization of the concept of “hegemony” from a sociological point of view (1.) we will focus on the question of (2.) how hegemony is stabilized in every day practices and (3.) in which contexts hegemonic practices and discourses are questioned and/or reconfigured by bringing in data from group discussions that we conducted in our ongoing DFG-funded project “Reconfigurations of Masculinities”. We will show that the construction of hegemonic masculinity (still) is a dominant pattern for men’s every day life experiences and practices, particularly in connection with the “paradigm of work” (“Erwerbsarbeitsparadigma”). Our material also enlightens the fact that “standard work” (“Normalarbeit”) is getting brittle and that the fissures that arise from this confront our interview partners with the challenge to gain new knowledge and to create new action strategies. Within also lies the potential for change and for questioning and contesting established power structures.