The last decades of the twentieth century witnessed a restructuring of capital and redistribution of wealth to the top of an economic pyramid on an international scale. This neoliberal “reform” involves the gradual dismantling of the welfare state, relegation of the employed and unemployable to the bottom of the social and economic pyramid, and perpetual warfare on national and global fronts. Antonio Gramsci's analysis of “passive revolution” seems cogent for this moment, particularly for the ways media and other cultural forms play a significant role in mobilizing or disorganizing consent. The Prison Notebooks, published in 1948, influenced the thinking of Italian and postwar European intellectuals and filmmakers on the left, and they continue to be a reservoir for an examination of the character and relevance of passive revolution, forms of coercion and consent, relations between the State and civil society, and the position of intellectuals in the creation of hegemony. Visconti's films on the Risorgimento, The Leopard and Senso; Pasolini's films and writings on the cultural and political transformations wrought by the “Economic Miracle”; the critical work that emerged from Stuart Hall, among others, at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Study in the UK; and research generated by the Indian Subaltern Studies group are testimonials to Gramsci's ongoing legacy. These texts followed Gramsci in performing a multifaceted examination of language, political, and social institutions; however, despite prolific research on media, there is scant concerted attention to their contributions in the passive revolution begun in the 1970s.
Marcia Landy; Gramsci, Passive Revolution, and Media. boundary 2 1 August 2008; 35 (3): 99–131. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2008-013
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