Mark McNally and John Schwarzmantel (eds.) Gramsci and Global Politics: Hegemony and Resistance, London: Routledge, 2009, 240 pp: 9789415474696 (hbk) 85 [pounds sterling]
Alison J. Ayers (ed.) Gramsci, Political Economy and International Relations Theory: Modern Princes and Naked Emperors, Houndmills: Macmillan, 2008, 272 pp: 9780230605824 (hbk) 61 [pounds sterling]
In English-language scholarship, the wider influence of Antonio Gramsci dates back to the publication in 1971 of Selections from the Prison Notebooks, edited by Hoare and Nowell-Smith (Gramsci, 1971), supplemented since then by a steady flow of further translations. Within the disciplines of political science and international relations as a whole, this influence has largely been restricted to those working within the Marxist tradition, but in the sub-field of international political economy (IPE), there has developed a distinctive and more widely influential neo-Gramscian 'school'.
The volume Gramsci and Global Politics (hereafter GGP) is the more wide-ranging of the two books under discussion here, and is book-ended by valuable surveys of contemporary Gramscian work by the two editors. Part I addresses neo-Gramscian work in IPE, both theoretical and empirical. As regards theory, Owen Worth examines the concept of hegemony as developed in neo-Gramscian IPE. Hegemony, for realist international relations, was about the power of dominant states to shape the international order, while Gramsci's concept has been adapted by Robert Cox, Stephen Gill and others to identify the social forces that lie behind the shaping of a particular order, through consent as much as coercion, and with an important role for culture and ideology. In the last twenty years, this approach has been deployed particularly in analysing the contemporary order of neoliberalism, and its hegemony in the shaping of institutions and ideas. Worth argues that this literature remains too top-down and state-centred, and requires greater attention to be paid to cultural practices, notably those shaped by the organisation of capitalist production. He suggests that Gramscians outside the field of IPE, such as Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall, offer an approach that can better take account of contradictions and contestations of hegemony. In the remaining papers in Part 1, Joseph Femia castigates the IR/IPE Gramscians for their almost postmodern relativism, and argues that they emphasise the role of ideas to a degree that...