Actors and discourses in the construction of hegemony

Monica Heller


In this paper, I will examine one aspect of a Gramscian notion of hegemony, one which focusses on the way in which hegemony is about “collectively attaining a single cultural “climate””, at least in part through language. This assumes discursive struggle in which some views end up marginalizing others. I will examine this struggle in terms of some of the ways in which the trajectories of actors and of discourses are connected, such that discursive resources are (or are not) available to actors with different positions with respect to unequally distributed symbolic and material resources, and are used in practice in ways which make sense given the sets of interests these actors have. This attempt at operationalizing an ethnography of hegemony is based on an analysis of discursive shift in between ethnonational forms of hegemonic discourse and practice being challenged by commodification, economic networking, and multiple affiliations, under conditions of economic shift from primary and secondary resource economies to tertiary ones, and of the re- shaping of the State’s relationship to civil society and the private sector. It has specifically to do with current shifts in ideas about what constitutes the category francophone in Canada, or put differently, what it might mean to do being “francophone”. In particular, I will examine the ways in which the institutionalized structures related to that categorization have been called into question by ongoing political economic change, and how actors involved in those structures act in, on and through the process of change to produce new ways of doing la francophonie, at least on the local level.

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