An introduction to the work, key ideas and influence of Gramsci, Italian Marxist theorist and political activist. Gramsci was a long term prisoner of the Mussolini regime, hence his most famous writings have been those penned in his cell, including the "Prison Notebooks" and the "Prison Letters." Gramsci's ideas about the the relationships between the rulers and the ruled, about domination, resistance and transgression, have been extremely influential in cultural studies and cultural theory. He is perhaps best-known for formulating the concept of "hegemony" which describes the process whereby the ruling power wins the consent of the ruled to the status quo, and hence to fit their subordination , and their ways of understanding the world with the interests of the ruling power. Gramsci's ideas were much employed during the grim years of Thatcherism, as critics on the left (notably Stuart Hall) struggled to find ways to explain the fact that the working classes kept voting for Thatcher, even though it was apparently against their interests to do so. Gramsci's thought also offers hope in that challenges or transgressions to hegemonic ideas or structures can be found even in the most outwardly conservative of narratives. Popular culture has often been cited as a key battleground, on which struggles for meaning and power take place - for example debates about whether Eminem is a "good thing" - because he speaks for the disenfranchised white working-class American, and argues against racial boundaries in music - or a bad thing because of his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics.
Steven Jones' book will explain the contemporary relevance of Gramsci's ideas, notably about hegemony, through recent texts, phenomena and events such as the death of Diana, "La haine," the Global spread of McDonalds and anti-globalization tracts including Naomi Klein's "No Logo."