By drawing on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, discuss how you would analyze Harry Potter books
Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was a politician and intellectual, one of those who played a leading role in the establishment of the Communist Party in Italy. Gramscis ideas had a significant influence on Italian Communism in the course of the Twentieth Century. During 1911, Gramsci joined the University of Turin. At this institution, he worked with the Socialist Youth Foundation. He became a member of the Socialist Party in 1914 (Entwistle, 2009). In the course of World War I, Gramsci explored Marxist theories and subsequently become a prominent theoretician. While a member of the Socialist Party, Gramsci established a leftist group as well as a newspaper publication titled The New Order in May 1919 (Holub, 2005). Moreover, he played a crucial role in the forming of factory councils, which helped in weakening the control and authority of trade unions. Factory councils comprised of democratic bodies that were elected by industrial employees directly. The factory councils organized and took part in a general strike in 1920 in Turin, where he played a crucial role. In 1921, Gramsci steered a walkout at the Socialist Congress, especially by leftist members to establish the Italian Communist Party, which he headed. After the Benito Mussolinis fascists outlawed the Socialist Party, he was arrested and incarcerated during 1926. During his trial proceedings, the fascist prosecutor stated that Gramscis brain should be stopped from working for a period of 20 years (Martin, 2002). While imprisoned, Gramsci, regardless of censorship, he performed a comprehensive theoretical and historical investigation of the Italian study as well as the strategies that can be adopted for change. Excerpts of Gramscis work he wrote while in prison were published during the mid-twentieth century (Holub, 2005). A bulk of his proposals became a crucial element of the Marxist school of thought in the Western world and had a substantial effect in the tactics espoused by communist parties in the West after World War II.
Overview of His Main Ideas and Theories
Gramsci is considered one of the most influential Marxist thinkers in the course of the 20th century. He played a crucial role in developing the concept of Western Marxism and proposed some ideals relating to Marxist theory including cultural hegemony (Martin, 2002). During the late 1920s and 1930s, the Western European working class movements were failing and fascism was rising; therefore, Gramsci began revaluating the revolutionary role that the working class was playing and argued that it helped in perpetuating fascism. He significantly expanded the scope of the concept of hegemony in order to determine how the ruling class creates and maintained their control. According to Gramsci, dominant groups such as the ruling class often preserve their dominance through obtaining the consent of subservient groups such as the working class by creating an ideological and political accord that included both the dominated and dominant (Holub, 2005).
Analysis of harry Potters Story Based on Antonio Gramscis Ideas and Theories
The influence of the Harry Potter books is tremendous, especially on popular culture and the individuals of the generation that have grown up simultaneously as the characters of the book (Fenske, 2009). The Harry Potter books can be analysed using Gramscis theory of cultural hegemony. Hegemony denotes one social group having dominance or power over other groups. Through hegemony, the best characteristics are determined and their respective power and influence controlled (Fenske, 2009). Cultural hegemony is enforced in various ways in the Harry Potter story. First, it is evident that the story lacks racial diversity. In the story, nearly all characters are middle class white. In the story, the readers do not learn of African-British students attending Hogwarts until the 3rd and 4th books. A number of other races are also presented in the story including Cho (Asian) and Patel twins (Indian) (Fenske, 2009). An inference from this observation is that the harry Potter story reinforces white supremacy or hegemony. In addition to lack of diversity that reinforces white hegemony, the Harry Potter story also captures aspects of societal hierarchy. Owing to the fact that the setting of the story is in a wizards world, a number of fantastical characters exist in the story such as werewolves (Lupin), half-giants (Hagrid), and giants (Grawp), which are all perceived to be outcasts and of lower class. As a result, they are looked down upon a majority of people. Wizards are perceived the most acceptable creatures and highly respected in the setting of the story. Wizards are portrayed as beautiful and powerful creatures whereas giants are depicted as stupid, dangerous, dirty, lowlife and evil (Fenske, 2009).
In addition, the Harry Potter reinforces the view that wealthy individuals are the most respected race, especially with pureblood wizards. For instance, Ron is from a pureblood wizards family albeit poor. Despite the fact that Ron is from a most respectable race, he is laughed at because of his poor background. Wealthy pureblood wizards such as the Malfoys have their opinions respected by the Ministry of Magic. Another aspect of hegemony reinforced by the Harry Potter story relates to gender hegemony, whereby the role of women are in the home whereas mens role is in the public domain of work (Fenske, 2009).
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The Gramscis theory of cultural hegemony can be used in analysing harry Potter books. It is evident that Harry Potter books reinforces a number of cultural hegemony ideals. The manner in which gender roles, class and race are depicted throughout the story serves to underline the hegemonic ideals of society. Specifically, white supremacy exists with respect to the race of characters in the story and wealthy individuals have influence and power irrespective of the type of creature.