Concept

Neo-Gramscianism

Summary
Neo-Gramscianism applies a critical theory approach to the study of international relations (IR) and the global political economy (GPE) that explores the interface of ideas, institutions and material capabilities as they shape the specific contours of the state formation. The theory is heavily influenced by the writings of Antonio Gramsci. Neo-Gramscianism analyzes how the particular constellation of social forces, the state and the dominant ideational configuration define and sustain world orders. In this sense, the neo-Gramscian approach breaks the decades-old stalemate between the realist schools of thought and the liberal theories by historicizing the very theoretical foundations of the two streams as part of a particular world order and finding the interlocking relationship between agency and structure. Karl Polanyi, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault are cited as major sources within the critical theory of IR. The beginning of the neo-Gramscian perspective can be traced to York University professor emeritus Robert W. Cox's article "Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory" in Millennium 10 (1981) 2 and "Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An Essay in Method", published in Millennium 12 (1983) 2. In his 1981 article, Cox demands a critical study of IR as opposed to the usual "problem-solving" theories, which do not interrogate the origin, nature and development of historical structures, but accept for example that states and the (supposedly) "anarchic" relationships between them as Kantian Dinge an sich. However, Cox disavows the label neo-Gramscian despite the fact that in a follow-up article he showed how Gramsci's thought can be used to analyze power structures within the GPE. Particularly Gramsci's concept of cultural hegemony, vastly different from the realists' conception of hegemony, appears fruitful.
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