The Body in Society – Hegemony

Hegemony is the dominance of one social class over another using ideologies that are accepted as the norm, to prevent the lower classes revolting. Gramsci said that in the 20th Century, the bourgeoisie developed a hegemonic culture, which made up its own norms and values (ideologies), that would become the ‘common sense’ values of everyone in society.

By controlling norms and values, people’s bodies are being controlled. The norms ands values restrict what people do and say, and also affects what they wear and how they decorate their homes. It affects even businesses and cooperations, because they need and want to be seen as conforming to the ideologies of society. However, large companies are a part of the bourgeoisie (without the proletariat realising) and can also project new ideologies on society, e.g through advertising.

man on the moon
Screenshot from John Lewis Christmas advert 2015, ‘Man on the Moon’

A good example of this is the infamous and eagerly awaited John Lewis Christmas advert. It started off as a typical advert, showing products that they were selling within a Christmas setting; but over a few years it has developed into an emotional ‘storytelling’. The most recent one has also addressed the societal issue of the elderly being lonely at Christmas, imposing a feeling amongst those who watch it to go out and help the elderly. It also gives a good image of John Lewis, as it is saying that they care about the elderly at this time of year, which will persuade people to shop with them.

Kim Kardashian wearing Balmain at the 2014 MTV VMAs
Kim Kardashian wearing Balmain at the 2014 MTV VMAs

Hegemony affects the proletariat’s fashion choices and interior design choices because ideologies are imposed on them which they conform to through many different ways. The most significant one in the fashion world is designers and celebrities. When a celebrity wears a certain designer, they instantly make that designer more popular with their fans, and it is possible that the fans wouldn’t have even considered that label before their idol wore them. Celebrity culture is a great advertising tool for designers, and a recent example of this is the ‘Balmain X H&M’ collaboration between the Parisian fashion House of Balmain and the high street store H&M. It brings designer fashion down to affordable prices for the majority of society to enjoy, rather than being an exclusive club for those who can afford the expensive items, meaning that the proletariat feel as though they conform to the correct ideologies (within fashion). The Kardashians in particular wear a lot of Balmain, especially Kim. Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain, said “I choose muses that are actually really different and modern – I chose them because they are contemporary, they are part of this new world”. By using Kardashian as one of his muses, he is getting his house to the forefront of the media, old and new, because of the Kardashian’s huge popularity and celebrity status; the ideologies of the House of Balmain are being projected onto the proletariat.


Balmain X H&M (2015) Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015).
Bold, B. (2015) John Lewis Christmas ads 2007 to 2015: From humble roots to national event. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015).
Haigh, J. (2015) Watch John Lewis’ heartwarming 2015 Christmas advert. Available at: (Accessed: 12 November 2015).
John Lewis (2015) John Lewis Christmas advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015).
Kellner, D. and Durham, M. G. (eds.) (2009) Media and cultural studies. 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Lindig, S., Staff, H. B., Odell, A., Fisher, L. A. and Rutherford, C. (2015)Olivier Rousteing reveals why Kim Kardashian is his ultimate muse. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2015).
Morris, M. and Following, M. M. (2014) Love it or hate it: Kim Kardashian’s risqué VMAs mini dress. Available at: (Accessed: 12 November 2015).

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