Some Thoughts to Hegemony: H and Dominant Ideology
It occurs to me we are left with at least 3 different ways of thinking about hegemony. I will add a fourth (though see Amy's 2-17 post for a movement model for hegemony). IT is worth making sure we understand what those ways are and what the stakes are when going in one direction as opposed to another.
1) hegemony is the name of how cultural/politcal resources organize a common sense (a consenus) to support a dominant ideology (a world view that supports current asymmetries in power relationships between nominal groups). At times, as Gunn and Treat recenly pointed out in QJS, hegmony in critical rhetoric/communication often takes the place of ideology, tout court, in an effort to distance hegemony from the overly deterministic connotations of ideology as determination. And, as one might notice in Cloud, ideology and hegemony get very close to one another. However, in the hands of someone like Dana Cloud Or Todd Gitilin, this approach to hegemony, explains how the dominant ideology reproduces itself, and protects itself from being challenged. Though, to be honest, hegemony and dominant ideology become so fused in Cloud's analysis that they are nearly substitutable. ( Pedegogically, I would suggest that this substitution effect should be avoided, and as an editor for journals I demand it :.)
2) what might this mean for rhetoric. I want to answer this question by following what I take to be, following the writings of Leff, Gaonkar, Charland, the central challenge of contemporary rhetorical studies; namely the relationship between rhetoric as stratetic intervention/as cultural practice of persuasion and rhetoric as rhetoricality, a general process that describes the linguistc character of all human institutions, including, humans.
a) as stragegic intervention: the view of hegemony as s a consensus/common sense toward a dominant ideology potentially divides all cultural/politcal documents into two camps: those that support the dominant ideology (hegemonic texts) and those that do not support the dominant ideology ("counter-hegemonic" texts?). Dominant ideology, therefore stands in as something that is known or must be explained, but the strategic intervention (the text, as a philosophically loaded shorthand), is read for how it constructs the common sense, or adherence to, the dominant ideology.
From such a standpoint, it becomes necessary to describe what textual charctersitic links the text and the dominant ideology. In other words, what is important is how the text "speaks" promotes the dominant ideology. For example, Cloud's case on Oprah, the link is the "Rhetoric of Tokinism." Tokinism is a judgement about the narrative logic of the Oprah Texts she describes, She borrows the concept of tokinism from sociology, and gives it a rhetrorical character ("rhetoric of") by essentially turning Tokinism into a way to classify a host of different texts (a meta genre, if you will). So what we thought was, for example, a biography (a literary genre) is given a "rhetorical" dynamic by the way it partakes in a broader rhetorical/sociological classification, tokenism.
One important point needs to be made. In none of Clouds examples are we dealing with the traditional rhetorical text or genre (perhaps epidiectic would be the best way to describe the Oprah texts that she discusses, especially, the tribute show but, she does not use these classical rhetorical concepts). At the very least, her examples are not political examples in the sense of an effort to persuade an audience to make a judgement about a particular policy issue. They are genres associated with the terrain of popular culture. At which point, the question is what makes her project about rhetoric. My point is that her object domain should not be automatically imagined as a "rhetorical" object. For her to do so, she needs to align rhetoric with a general process that can be given a rhetorical character. The general process is hegemony and the concept that links these texts to the general process of hegemony is "a rhetoric of tokinism." a classification of fragmented multigeneric texts into a unified whole. ( a discursive articulation, to use L/M langauge)
As an aside: lots of folks deal with this slippage between the classical forms of rhetoric (epideictic,deliberative forensic) and contemporary forms of rhetoric like seriel television shows, by using the concept "cultural rhetoric" to describe the latter. According to Mailloux, "cultural rhetoric means taking on the study of the political effectivity of trope and argument in culture" (Rhetorical Power 59). (of couse, at this point, we are already beginning to move away from intentional efforts at persuasion to make a judgement in a situation, to a more subtle forms of persuasion as influence with or without worrying about specific situational moments that require judgement. In fact Mailloux fully belongs to a vision of rhetoric as general process ( where would their not be the political effecticity of trope and argument in culture, especially, after we textualize culture?) Back to Hegemony as common sense/consensus
b) as general process. In the Hegemony as consensus to dominant ideology approach, therefore, rhetoric becomes a general process to the extent that hegemony takes place accross the cultural/politcal sphere and this sphere has a linguistic character. Hegemony, almost by definition, has a rhetorial character, because it manifests itself in linguistic forms throughout a social fromation. We turn rhetoric into a general process to the extent that key concepts (like hegemony) are said to have a rhetorical character. The only limits, then, on the rhetorical, is the limits of the concept that has been re-made as rhetorical. For example, for Cloud, it is hard to know what text would not be either "hegemonic" or "counter-hegemonic" . Is it even possible, to have an ahegemonic text? Though, it should be noted, that attaching rhetoric to hegemony, does not necessarily, mean that we would talk about the general process in the radical sense the L/M suggest, For Cloud, rhetoric (in the first sense) either promotes or challenges power relationships (those relationships may not all be imagined as rhetorically constituted)
3. Some Critical implications:
a) A hegemony as consensus or common sense approach requires that you provide an account of the dominant ideology that your texts are said to be hegemonizing (that, is building consensus toward)
b)Try to minimize the easy substitutablity between hegemony and ideology. For example, in a phrase like hegemonic masculinity, do we mean a commons sense about masculinity that supports or changes a particular dominant ideology ( a world view that supports an asymmentrical relationship of power- Patriarchy) or do we mean that hegemonic masculinty is a dominant ideology about masculinity. In which case, what is the name of that dominant ideology. We should all be careful about this conceptual slippage effect. If you mean for hegemony to mean a common sense to a particular idea of x such a view is neutral to its relationship to power, unless you make specific claims about how that common sense harms or disadvantages particular groups or how that common sense gives a history to the dominant ideology. IN other words, if patriachy is the dominant ideology you are studying, how does patriachy change due to changing notions of our common sense about masculinity.
To think of hegemony as common sense, has builit into it the problem between product and process, I would suggest thinking hegemony is the process, commons sense is the product. The question is, what is the rhetorical character of that process that reveals a common sense (its product). The second step is to argue that the product (common sense) is bad or good for power relationship between folks. At which case, we may or may not need to concept ideology.
c. I we will return to ideology as a concept, but, I would encourage folks to follow Condit's lead and seperate hegemony from dominant ideology, they are two different concepts ( a future post will explain the implications and assumptions I find in Condit's approach). In fact, we have reasons to keep hegemony, but abandon ideology, dominant or otherwise (See Deluca on L@M). At the very least, we need to return to whether or not we should be thinking of ideology as a terrain as opposed to a product/thing (Protestantism). A concept like dominant ideology presupposes that ideology be imagined as a thing/product. As we will begin to explore next week, ideology can also be described as a process of interpellion, that makes subjects. so the relationship bewtween hegemony and ideology is not easily worked out without an idea of the difference between the two concepts and the relationship between the two concepts.
Let me know if any of this was helpful, seems wrong, seems to need amendment/clarity.