Gramsci and Williams on Going Green

I chose to incorporate Gramsci and Williams into my case study of sustainability in society because I feel that both theorists acknowledge and emphasis my point of half-incorporation of subaltern views in society. One of the points I am trying to highlight is how businesses and individuals only do some sustainable practices to be part of this trendy movement. Other, more extreme sustainable practices, may be ‘too sustainable’ to incorporate into everyday, thus threatening the dominant ideology and beliefs.

One of Gramsci’s main arguments is his use and description of hegemony, which is “a group or class really making parts of the subalterns’ worldview its own.” Hence, one of my examples, Walmart, uses sustainability to remain a dominating retailer in the world because it wants to appear that it is concerned for the environment so the alternative groups will continue to support Walmart. Regardless of the extremely unsustainable practices that Walmart does, it wants to appear ‘green’ to maintain control over and capital from the alternative groups.

Similar to Gramsci, Williams also acknowledges how alternative and subaltern views are being “acknowledge and incorporated” into society by the dominant ideology. More so than Gramsci, Williams talks in-depth about the subaltern groups noting the emergent and residual cultures. I’m arguing that the sustainability movement is more residual than emergent because environmental concerns have existed in societal history; this isn’t a completely new, emergent form.

Both Gramsci and Williams will support my half-incorporation vs. full-incorporation idea about sustainability in society. Both theorists notice how the dominant ideology tries to incorporate subaltern views, whether that be environmental, feminist, LBGT, etc. into their own structures to appear “open” and “respectful” of all members of society. When, in reality, the genuine intent is missing, further dividing the dominant and subaltern groups.

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