Political Hegemony and Social Complexity

Mechanisms of Power After Gramsci

  • Alex Williams

Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Alex Williams
    Pages 1-13
  3. Alex Williams
    Pages 53-67
  4. Alex Williams
    Pages 69-86
  5. Alex Williams
    Pages 87-112
  6. Alex Williams
    Pages 113-134
  7. Alex Williams
    Pages 135-160
  8. Alex Williams
    Pages 161-193
  9. Alex Williams
    Pages 195-232
  10. Alex Williams
    Pages 233-248
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 249-252

About this book


How can we understand power in a world of ever-growing complexity? This book proposes that we can do so by rethinking the theory and practice of political hegemony through the resources of complexity theory. Taking Gramsci’s understanding of hegemony as its starting point, the book argues that the intricacies of contemporary power can be mapped by applying concepts drawn from complexity theory, such as emergence, self-organisation, metastability, and generative entrenchment. It develops an original account of social complexity, drawing upon critical realist sociology, analytic philosophy of science, Marxist and continental philosophies, and neoliberal and anarchist thought. It then draws out the elements of Gramscian hegemony that already align with complexity concepts, such as the balance of forces, common sense, and the historic bloc. On this basis, the book sets out the different dimensions of complex hegemonic power before using this theory to interpret the nature of the power of neoliberalism since 2008.

Alex Williams is a lecturer in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. His work focuses on power, technology, and strategy. He is the co-author of Inventing the Future (with N. Srnicek, 2015) and Hegemony Now (with J. Gilbert, forthcoming).


hegemonic political theory complexity theory Gramsci philosophy of science cybernetics post-structuralism non-linearity social structure social emergence critical realism nonreductive individualism political change hylomorphism political influence self-organisation common sense radical democracy ideology state theory neoliberalism

Authors and affiliations

  • Alex Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

Bibliographic information