What does hegemony mean?

    In its historic sense, hegemony refers to the political dominance of one country or state over another (or group of others).

    More generally, it implies a high level of influence, authority or control over others.

    The word itself is thought to be derived from an ancient Greek term describing the alliance of city states beneath a single leader state (‘the hegemon’).

    Influence and persuasion

    If a powerful country uses its influence to persuade a group of less powerful countries that it would be beneficial for them to do something, which is actually more in the best interests of the powerful country, that would be hegemony.

    A hegemonic country, with this ability to control the behaviour of others, is in a position to affect all sorts of global policies in their favour.

    Hegemony, therefore, is all about convincing others that something is in their best interests, as opposed to using force or intimidation to achieve the same outcome.

    The concept can be also applied to a range of social, cultural and economic situations e.g. the influence of one social class over another. The rich are often said to have hegemony over the poor because they are able to use their wealth to control various aspects of society.