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“The dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas.” –http://www.britannica.com
“The position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore able to control others.” – dictionary.cambridge.org
“The social, cultural ,ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.” – http://www.merriam-webster.com
Most people at some point in their life have felt what it’s like to be pushed around by someone in power. This could be a parent, a teacher, classmate, boss, fellow employee, etc. Often power gets abused when someone has it for too long, or doesn’t deserve it in the first place. The power they have over other people: be it social, economic, cultural or ideological; will allow them to have a level of dominance over a group of people. The dominance given to them via one or more of these factors can allow them to have most of the directional influence in terms of what happens next or what decisions are final in something beginning or finishing. Often these people can make decisions outside of what the rest of the people want, but with the power the few have the decision is made final by them, often affecting many in some sort of a negative way. This is called hegemony.
Hegemony is the result of an unbalanced society. Few are given power over others because of social status or wealth. Now this isn’t always a bad thing, of course, because a functioning society needs strong leaders to lead it. However, leadership shouldn’t be determined by status or wealth. Leadership should be determined by a person’s integrity, ability, and responsibility before being placed into a position that determines the direction of others. If a person has proven that they are firstly – able to manage their own lives and prove to be successful in what they do, and secondly – prove that they have the ability and skills to successfully take charge of a situation and lead a group of people to a better state or position, then they should be deemed worthy of a leadership position in society.
Unfortunately, many people are placed into power who do not deserve it. This being the case when for example, a person in power steps down from their role, or is forced out due to personal circumstances, and a new person fills their place. This sometimes, or rather, often allows people who actually aren’t appropriately equipped for leadership to be placed into a very demanding role, and therefore leading them to not provide what is expected of them. Eventually, not always but often, this person will come to do not so great things with their power due to them not really knowing what to do with it themselves, or having selfish reasons from the start. This of course leads to hegemony in society.
It is our responsibility as a community and society to choose our leaders wisely and to ensure that the people being considered have proved themselves worthy of the position long before they came to the point of being able to receive the power to lead. The voice of the people (the majority) who will be affected by the rule of powerful leaders (the minority) must prove to always be stronger than the few people in charge, because the the decisions those few make will ultimately impact the majority of the people who make up the population in this world. It is every single person’s responsibility to contribute to having and maintaining a stable community.
Kawinga, R.K. 2018. Media Culture Ideology & Hegemony, lecture PowerPoint slide. Displayed during lecture at SAE Institute, Woodstock Exchange, Cape Town, South Africa.