Theorising Complex Hegemony

  • Alex WilliamsEmail author
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


This chapter first sets out a general theory of complex hegemony. It develops key insights from Gramsci along lines suggested by complexity theory, with particular attention to the key complexity ideas of emergence and social structure, metastability and political transformation, and the politics of self-organisation. The author reads elements of Gramscian hegemony theory through the lens of ideas from complexity theory and vice versa, developing a generalised and abstracted theory of hegemony using the resources of complexity theory. The central question it answers from a theoretical standpoint is how hegemony-as-emergent property can be engineered, and from a more political point of view how it is that intensely complex, large-scaled societies can seemingly still be ruled by relatively small groups of elites? To do so it synthetically combines key hegemony and complexity concepts, before deriving some general principles, using simple socio-political examples as illustrations.


Hegemony Complexity Gramsci Self-organisation Emergence 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

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

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