Gramsci and Foucault: Hegemony in the Global Episteme

cpe_51David presented a paper at the Inaugural Conference on Cultural Political Economy in Lancaster, held by Bob Jessop – who wrote a review of Gramsci and Foucault: A Reassessment, for the back cover, and Ngai-Ling Sum, who authored one of the chapters in the book.


Abstract: Gramsci and Foucault: Hegemony in the global episteme.

Does Foucault’s concentration upon the micropolitics in society that add up to and constitute (post-national) governmentality undermine and discount, or complement and mirror Gramsci’s concentration on the hegemonic reach of centralised power out into the minutiae of social relations?  Considering the extant literature, three camps emerge: (i) the Marxists for whom Foucault’s conception of power ignores historical realities – such as ‘the fundamental classes’; (ii) the poststructuralists for whom Foucault’s nominalism precludes any totalizing theoretic such as Gramsci’s – and for whom the ‘fundamental classes’ do not exist; and (iii) those for whom these differences constitute the site of complementarity between the two writers. In this third camp, there seems little evidence of any genuine attempt to combine the theories of the two, without in some shape or form granting one or the other the upper hand in some fundamental respect.  The finest meeting between the two seems to be Laclau and Mouffe’s updating of Gramsci’s thought into the poststructuralist mode, incorporating an acceptance of the decentring of the subject in poststructuralism, and an abandonment of scientistic essentialism, allowing a re-conception of the notion of hegemony as a discursive phenomenon.  The implications of this meeting for the philosophical foundations of CPE can be seen in the deployment of consumerism and financialisation to legitimise the neoliberal project – a new hegemony that is transnational in the distributed sense that neo-Gramscians would describe, at the same time as determining subjectivities through a Foucauldian governmentality of the global episteme.


Kreps, D (2015) ‘Gramsci and Foucault: Hegemony in the Global Episteme’ at Inaugural Conference on Cultural Political Economy, Lancaster, UK, 1st-2ndSeptember 2015

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