The ideological process whereby the worldview, values, aspirations and senses of self of a specific group are able to be so embedded in the broad social imagination as desirable that this culturally-specific worldview is seen as ‘natural’ or ‘commonsensical’. This essentially is a process of political domination by stealth.
This is the current situation regarding whiteness. Italian sociologist Antonio Gramsci (see The Prison Notebooks, 1971) is a central theorist in the area of hegemony. In this view, the dominant or ‘ruling’ class is able to ensure the continuation of its dominance through the securing of the ‘consent’ of the mass of the population to its worldview, or ‘the general direction imposed upon social life by the ruling group’ (Macy, 2000, p 176).
Often, such consent means that those dominated support, engage in and defend social practices that are actually to their own detriment. This leads to and underpins a deficit view of subordinate groups in a society: it is they who have failed to meet a ‘natural’ standard or benchmark, it is not seen that the benchmarks are set by groups committed to maintaining the status quo and their own privileged position within that. (see Whiteness).« Back to Glossary Index