We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Dance Moms teaches us about cultural hegemony

Click here to access article by Matt Bruenig from his blog.
In simple terms, cultural hegemony refers to the way in which the powerful shape a society’s norms, values, and other institutions, and how that particular shaping becomes accepted as default, natural, perpetual, and inevitable. That is, people tend to regard the way we currently run things in society as the only way to run things in society. Instead of regarding our background systems as just one set of institutions among thousands of possibilities, people appear to think of them as default constants.
This is a powerful insight on how a ruling class shapes all subordinate institutions of a society, and through their power this class restricts how people think about these arrangements.

He uses a particular development, the "pyramid", from the reality TV show Dance Moms to illustrate his insights:



Unfortunately, the author appears also to be constrained by "cultural hegemony": he identifies the underlying reality as the "system of income distribution". This is another way of identifying capitalism without using the word which is almost taboo in American society--perhaps another indication of cultural hegemony?