In modern culture, media and technology control the allotment of everyday life for an individual, and particularly the American Society. Every day, the majority of the American population wake up in the morning to instantly watching the news, checking their phones, catching up on social media, or reading the newspaper, all in search to discover their place in society. We Americans, immediately saturate ourselves in the totality of media from the moment we wake in the mornings, to the moment we rest our heads at night. In doing so, we ask ourselves, Where do we fit into American culture? What popular opinion will we conform to? What judgments will be directed towards us? The media is the largest influence on how we perceive ourselves to be and who we strive ourselves to be. At the hand of cultural media, we decide what we are going to do with our everyday lives and what ambitions we set for ourselves. This is particularly exercised in the practice of Hegemony.
Well, What is hegemony exactly? Hegemony is the practice of dominance or leadership controlled by social groups and/ or relationships. Hegemony often refers to the popular(majority) opinion or social order over another. This term was comprehensively analyzed in the article “Hegemony, Intellectuals and the State” by Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was primarily focused on explaining the fashions in which machinery manufacturing and uniform came into standing. Gramsci further explains how hegemony is exercised in two ways, as Gramsci writes, “The methodological criterion on which our own study must be based in the following: that the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways as ‘domination’ and as ‘intellectuals and moral leadership.’” As we can see, Gramsci explains hegemony in two categories, ways in which dominance controls social order, and ways in dominance actually come to power through the roles of leadership and popular morals. Gramsci expands on this argument by highlighting how the practice of hegemony is controlled by both, “force and consent.” He writes that both factors play into each other, without one overpowering the other. He further explains that force is primarily dependent on consent, as he states,
“ Indeed, the attempt is always made to ensure that force will appear to be based on the consent of the majority expressed by the so-called organs of public opinion – newspapers, and associations – which, therefore, in certain situations, are artificially multiplied. (p.80)”
Moreover, Gramsci highlights what aspects create the practice of Hegemony.
Advancing off of Gramsci’s understanding of hegemony, I presume that in today’s culture, media and technology have the strongest hegemonic discipline above all cultural practices, politics, and social order. The media continues to not only dominate the fate and direction of American Culture, but also plays a crucial role in our exercises of modern pedagogy, and the consequences it contributes to the fabrication of alienation. Furthermore, media is the navigator of Modern American culture in aspects of hegemony, pedagogy, and it’s establishment flourishing of alienation. As we analyze American media culture, we realize there are no boundaries over what the media has regulation and influence over. Where is the fine line between media, education, culture, and individuality?
First off, we have lost the infrastructure in American society as to what our forms of popular culture, literacy, and civic engagement really are. Although we are well aware of how prominent social groups have hegemonic power over unpopular opinions, in civic society, it is evident to recognize that media plays a larger role in powering over every hegemonic social order. There is a hierarchy that has been established, and we see that media sits at the top, controlling what we learn, see, and experience. In particular, one of the greatest sufferings from this modern day culture is the essence of our academic apprenticeship. There is a challenge for education systems to be the source of information for adolescents when the media is first at hand for everything. Younger generations and even adults, yearn for modern news and pop culture for immediate satisfaction, rather than assimilating the proper education American society needs for purposes of intellectual and civic dignity. This topic of pedagogy was brought to attention in the article, “Public Pedagogy and Rodent Politics: Culture Studies and the Challenge of Disney,” by Henry Giroux, where he explains our American society has lost the foundation of education through the development of pop culture media. In Giroux’s article, he argues that the worlds of “formal education” and “pop culture” have now deflated into each other, and the only place where children and individuals as a whole learn about each other is through pop culture publications. Giroux explains this concept by specifically highlighting how industries are the sources of education and shaping the identity of Americans. In particular, Giroux targets one of the biggest American corporations, Disney. Although Giroux explains his argument by critiquing Disney, his overall argument is exceptionally relevant to the argument that media has taken over the nature of scholarship pedagogy. As we see here, Giroux writes,
“None of us stand outside of the cultures of pleasure and entertainment that now hold such sway over American society. The test of such cultures may not lie in whether they are capable of producing joy and merriment, but in their capacity to offer narratives of pleasure without undermining the basic institutions of a substantive democracy.”
Moreover, Giroux solidifies the argument that instead of saturating American culture in the luxury of media, we should be finding those boundaries that once lied between amusement and productive education.
Another way that media has become the primary source of hegemonic power in American culture is by the way it progresses alienation among individuals, furthering affecting society as a whole. Even though media selects to highlight the thrilling entertainment, riches, success, of American Culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is having a positive effect on the American population. Although the purpose of media is supposed to appeal to the American population in a constructive way, and its main employment is to make people feel confident and happy, it most often does the opposite. As mentioned in the article, “Marxist Analysis” by John Berger, he argues that the mass media creates a world where people feel the distance, isolated, and “alienated” from the “worker” or individual they are. Berger highlights because of mass media, people are hardly able to identify themselves with who they are, what career they are doing, and essentially their place in society. Berger further explains this by stating,
“In this situation, the mass media play a crucial role. They provide momentary gratifications for the alienated spirit, they distract the alienated individual from his or her misery (and from the consciousness of the objective facts of his or her situation), and, with the institutions of advertising, they stimulate desire, leading people to work harder and harder. (51)”
By the same token as to what Berger addresses, he contends that media is counterintuitive to its purpose in society. It’s hegemonic power over American civilization further manufactures a world far from acting in unity. With mass media having ultimate hegemonic power, there is no sense of community established because everyone feels as though they are not good enough to keep up with the public. They feel as though they have never met their own identity, but instead are constantly searching for themselves in the publications of pop culture. They feel empty, isolated, and distant from the civilization they call their own.
Furthermore, it is clear to notable that not only is hegemony enforced in modern culture today through the domination of social groups, but is exercised and controlled primarily through media and technology. As a result of this, it is affecting our society as a whole by diminishing our formal pedagogy, and the solidarity within society.