Hêgemonía: Hegemony, Classical and Modern

  • David Wikinson University of California, Los Angeles


"Hegemony" is a term from the vocabulary of classical Greek history which was deliberately revived in the 19th century to describe a modern phenomenon. In its classical context, the clear denotation of hegemony is a military-political hierarchy, not one of wealth or cultural prestige; although both economic and cultural resources could serve to advance military-political hegemony, they were not at all of the essence. Hegemonic relations were conscious, and based upon complex motives and capacities. Individuals, peoples and states could desire, seek, struggle for, get, keep, lose and regain hegemony. Hegemony was sought or exercised over nations, over territories, over the land or the sea, or over tôn holôn, "the whole"; but "territories" turn out to be the states and nations thereon, "the land" and "the sea" actually meant "the mainland states" and "the island states," and tôn holôn was the world system, the whole system of interacting states. Hegemonic power relationships in the classical style are alive and well today; far from being time-bound, place-bound or culture-bound, hegemony in the classical sense is a transhistorical and transcultural fact that merits comparative-civilizational and comparative-world-systems study. While bilateral, alliance, and regional hegemonies are far more frequent both today and in the past, the most useful hegemony for study in a comparative civilizations/world systems context is systemwide hegemony: a unipolar influence structure that falls short of universal empire.
How to Cite
Wikinson, D. (2008). Hêgemonía: Hegemony, Classical and Modern. Journal of World-Systems Research, 14(2), 119-141. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2008.340
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