Relevance of Hegemony to Contemporary International Relations

Subject: Political
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 803
Topics: Political Science, Democracy, International Relations

Table of Contents


The Neo-Gramscian theory hegemony is defined as a structure of values, norms and ways of understanding present in the international system that is to both states and non-state actors. It analyzes how dominant ideas, the state and social forces define and sustain the international system (Dirzauskaite & Ilinca, 2017, p. 45). Robert cox, Stephen Gill and David law are among the main philosophers who have developed this theory basing their research on Gramsci’s prison note books. In the paper a discussion of how their view of hegemony has affected international relations will be provided. 

Philosophers supporting this theory differ with realists who perceive hegemony as a result of military force. Hegemony to them equals an establishment within a sphere of internationally accepted values. Therefore, hegemony is not mainly in terms of force, as realists define it, rather is in terms of, shared beliefs and common sense (Dirzauskaite & Ilinca, 2017, p. 45). Consensual aspects have to be at the forefront if hegemony is to prevail. In an ideal hegemony a sum of coercion and consent fulfill their role of maintaining a stable social order and political organization.

The United States of America is considered a hegemony due to various factors. For instance, the fact that their ideology of capitalism was accepted by many countries in the world.  Many states have accepted capitalism and believe it is the only way to go (Bradanini, 2009, p. 6). This was mainly after the cold war and many countries shunned communism and accepted capitalism as their economic ideology. Very few countries use any other ideologies and if so there is an aspect of capitalism in each and every country. The world has accepted the USA ideology as the norm that makes it hegemony by consent.

Hegemony is a country whose norms, institutions, and mechanisms have been accepted globally. They dictate the rules of behavior in the international system and other forces of the civil society that work globally. United States foreign policy dictates that for relations with other countries, the country must have a certain human rights reputation. This has made many countries accept human rights into their constitution (Jessop, 2016 p.71). This is in a bid to be on the right side since upholding human rights has been accepted globally as common sense. A state that has been condemned by the United States is condemned most countries in the world. An example is in the case of Iraq that led to the United States invading it on basis of humanitarian intervention. There is also the use of the dollar bill as the standard currency in the world. It has been accepted and has helped maintain the world economy at a stable position.

State sovereignty has been subjugated to a global economic system where transnational financial systems have used coercive techniques of intellectual and cultural persuasion (Sklair, 2002). World Bank and IMF have been involved in changing of policies in many countries (Arne, 2007, p. 91). They offer financial assistance to many countries in the world. Countries that get this financial assistance need to have met certain conditions. If not, their request is not granted. There is the use of economic coercion to get countries to accept their ideologies and norms as common sense. The two Bretton woods institutions introduce programs that regulated some policies in the various countries (Unay , 2010, p. 46). These programs included laying off staff and many other adjustments (Arne, 2007, p. 91). They have very heavy implications on the social sector but since they are hegemony countries have to implement.

There is also the aspect of free market economy. This type of economic system requires countries to open up their markets to outside goods. This form of economy has been applied in many countries in the world though it is harmful to the host countries economy. This is in effect to the USA and the Bretton woods institutions pushing for it to be accepted. Gramsci describes hegemony as a process by which the elite in a society transfer their own interests and values into the common sense to be of use in the society (Deak, 2005, p. 47). That is evident with free market economy.


Neo-Gramscian understanding on hegemony is mainly based on the writings of Gramsci. These aspects are very applicable in the world we living in today. The world as it is today favors the ideologies of the hegemonies and most countries have accepted them as common sense. There are certain country originated aspects that have been made global. Aspects such as capitalism and certain laws have been made global norms. These ideas are now the basis of certain actions and reactions by states. Some have increased relations among countries while others have led to other countries being left out. 

Did you like this sample?
  1. Antoniades, A., 2008. ‘theories of hegemony’ to ‘hegemony analysis in international relations’. Pp. 1-18.
  2. Arne, R., 2007. Studies in political economy. Producing neoliberalhegemony ? A neo – gramsciananalysis of the povertyreduction strategy paper ( prsp )in nicaragua, pp. 91-118.
  3. Bradanini, D., 2009. The Rise of the Competitiveness Discourse—A Neo-Gramscian Analysis. Bruges Political Research Papers, 2(10), pp. 1-42.
  4. Deak, A., 2005. The Condition of Hegemony and the Possibility of Resistance. 2(3), pp. 46-56.
  5. Dirzauskaite, G. & Ilinca, N. . C., 2017. Understanding “Hegemony” International Relations Theories. Development and International Relations, pp. 1-63.
  7. Sklair, L., 2002. Democracy and the transionalist class. The annals of american academy, pp. 144-157.
  8. Unay , S., 2010. European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, 3(2), pp. 1-255.
  9. Ayers, A. Ed., 2008. Gramsci, political economy, and international relations theory: Modern princes and naked emperors. Springer.
  10. Jessop, B., 2016. 5. State theory. Handbook on Theories of Governance, p.71.
Related topics
More samples
Related Essays