The persistence of (ideological) hegemony

Ideological hegemony in cases of involuntary subordination is, I believe, likely to occur only if either of two rather stringent conditions are met. The first of these is that there exist a strong probability that a good many subordinates will eventually come to occupy positions of power. The expectation that one will eventually be able to exercise the domination that one endures today is a strong incentive serving to legitimate patterns of domination. It encourages patience and emulation, and, not least, it promises revenge of a kind, even if it must be exercised on someone other than the original target of resentment. If this supposition is correct it would help to explain why so many age-graded systems of domination seem to have such durability. The junior who is exploited by elders will eventually get his chance to be an elder; those who do degrading work for others in an institution—providing they can reasonably expect to move up—will eventually have that work done for them; the traditional Chinese daughter-in-law can look forward, if she has a son(!), to becoming a domineering mother-in-law.34

dom-art-resistch. 4

I've always had the suspicion that Chinese people had children just so that they had little slaves of their own to boss around, to be able to vent the frustration and trauma of being subjugated by their own elders (not to mention the "insurance policy" rationale for having kids). I've observed this even in those who are childless, who believe they have the societal-given right to bully those younger than them as they wish.

(This is not to say that I have not observed this impulse to pass down the trauma in other hierarchical groups as well, simply that Chinese culture was the one I grew up in, and hence the one whose dynamics are most visible to me.)


dom-art-resist Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. ↩︎ 1