Regardless, Gramsci is able to explain precisely what the earlier Marxist were not able to that is the ‘“free consent” of the governed to the leadership of the governing classes under capitalism’ (Hall, 19).
Hegemony and the media: Gramsci highlights the importance of certain institutions in particular mass media, as the ‘subject to production, reproduction and transformation of hegemony’ (Strinati, 1995: 168).
Stevenson (19), suggests that hegemony is a continuous battleground where the ‘bourgeoisie and the working class construct economic, political and cultural alliances with other social groups’ and that ‘ideology is represented as the social cement that binds together different class alliances’.
He further adds that the ideology works only when it is able to relate to the ‘common sense’ of the people and influence them for change.
There is still a question as to why people would indisputably consent to let the dominant class control them, why would they agree to cultural and political consensus.
Gramsci answers this by suggesting that the subordinate group is not ‘ideologically indoctrinated’ but accepts the values and leadership of the dominant class since it also reflects their own interests (Strinati, 1995: 166; Hall, 19; Gitlin, 2003: 253).
Gramsci built upon Marxism to conceptualize hegemony focusing more on the ideological independence and ‘human subjectivity’ rather than economy (Daniel, 2000).
One of the limitations of Marxist theory was the fact that ‘superstructure’ .i.e.
Hence, Gramsci’s hegemonic ideology is based on the fact that the ‘dominant social group in a society have the capacity to exercise intellectual and moral direction over society at large and to build a new system of social alliances to support its aims’ (Thussu, 20).
Military force might not always be the best possible way to gain power; in fact it is achieved not with ‘legal and legitimate compulsion’ but by ‘winning active consent’ of the subordinate class (Hall, 1982: 85).