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Gramsci Antonio(1891-1937) Italian revolutionary Marxist and political theorist whose concept of HEGEMONY has been influential in modern sociology. Gramsci was born into a poor Sardinian family. In 1911 he won a scholarship to the University of Turin where he studied linguistics. Because of increasing political commitments he left the University to become a leading socialist journalist and theorist of the Turin factory councils movement of 1919-20. Gramsci saw direct democracy based on factory councils as destined to replace parliamentary democracy This would enable the mass of the population to participate directly in the making of political decisions. In 1924, Gramsci became secretary of the Italian Communist Party But with the growth of FASCISM he was arrested in 1926. At his trial the official prosecutor demanded that the judge ‘stop this brain working for twenty years’. Prison did not silence him, but inspired him to write his major theoretical achievement, the Prison Notebooks. These cover a wide range of subjects, the common link being the application of MARXISM to the problems of Italian history and society His strategy for change was based upon organizing the northern working class and the southern peasantry and welding a revolutionary alliance between them. See also INTELLECTUALS, FORDISM AND POSTFORDISM, CULTURAL STUDIES.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000