Antonio Gramsci

Main terms:

Organic Intellectual

* An organic intellectual doesn’t simply repeat the beliefs or demands of a community, but speaks of what has not been officially recognized.

* Organic intellectuals: “rise out of membership in social groups (or classes) that have an antagonistic relationship to established institutions and official power”

* As a group they articulate the needs of institutions and official powers which have not gone to be mentioned or expressed.

Traditional Intellectual

* “…are the administrators and apologists for existing social and cultural institutions, such as schools, various religious denominations, corporations, the military, the press, political bureaucracies, and the judicial system” (Leitch, 1136)

* Traditional intellectuals are also writers and artists since they work within formal institutions.

Historic bloc’

* is a term which expresses Gramsci’s sense that social groups are built/made up based on several terms:    

         The history and place where the events are taking place

         The strength and influence of classes that surround the class being built

         Intellects within the society


* a term closely related to ‘historic bloc’, which aims to the ideology or concept of a Marxists dynamic.

*  The values of a hegemonic culture become the ‘common sense’ of all values.

*  Hegemony is a “’manufactured consent’, created through the articulation of intellectuals in a public sphere, in which contending articulations are also voiced”(Leitch, 1137).


Done by:

Fay Al Ghunaim

Aisha Al Suwaidan



Antonio Gramsci "The formation of Intellectuals"

1.       Antonio Gramsci: Is one of the major figures of Western Marxism. He was born in Sardinia in 1891. He led the Communist Party of Italy and imprisoned by Benito Mussolini who led the Fascist Party, In prison he wrote "The Prison Notebooks". Died in 1937.

2.       There was no proletariat revolution; Gramsci calls proletariats to form their own organic intellectuals.

3.       Gramsci identified two types of intellectuals:

a.       Traditional intellectuals: are those who do regard themselves as autonomous and independent of the dominant social group and are regarded as such by the population at large. The clergy are an example of that as are the men of letters, the philosophers and professors. Although they like to think of themselves as independent of ruling groups, this is usually a myth and an illusion. They are essentially conservative allied to and assisting the ruling group in society.

b.        Organic intellectuals are bourgeoisie scholars who cultivate strong roots in their community, working to maintain links with local issues and struggles that connect to the people and their experiences. They openly recognize their location within the dominant ideology and their function in perpetuating it, and use their position to cultivate strategies for helping their communities to develop a self-inspired, organic consciousness.

4.       Hegemony: the permeation throughout society of an entire system of values and morality that has the effect of supporting the status in power relations.

5.       Ideology: a system of ideas and beliefs; yet, it is closely tied to the concept of power.

6.       Feudalism : the system where all land was owned by the king. One quarter was kept by the king as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was least out under strict controls. It is also a social organization created by exchanging grants of land in return for formal oaths of allegiance and promises of loyal service.

7.       For Gramsci, intellectuals are not independent but, rather, products of the class into which they are born.

8.       .Gramsci’s goal is to figure out a “unitary criterion to characterise equally all the diverse and disparate activities of intellectuals and to distinguish these at the same time . . . from the activities of other social groupings” (1140).

9.       It is a mistake to focus in this regard on the “intrinsic nature of intellectual activities” (1140) rather than on the “ensemble of the system of relations in which these activities have their place within the general complex of social relations” (1140).

10.   Gramsci stresses that “all men are intellectuals, . . . but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals” (1140).

11.   .True Intellectuals: Journalists " men of letter", philosopher, artists who are traditional intellectuals.

12.   Ordine Nuovo, a socialist magazine edited by Gramsci, worked and succeeded in developing certain forms of new intellectualism and determining its concepts.

13.   The “mode of being of the new intellectual can no longer consist in eloquence, which is an exterior and momentary mover of feelings and passions, but in active participation in practical life, as constructor, organizer, ‘permanent persuader’ and not just a simple orator” (1141).

14.   Classes “developing towards dominance” (1141) struggle to “assimilate and to conquer ‘ideologically’ the traditional intellectuals” (1141), but this process is quickened when such classes develop their own organic intellectuals.

15.   The main instrument by which “intellectuals . . . are elaborated” (1141) is the school.

16.    Different classes have been more given to becoming intellectuals while different categories within these classes gravitate towards particular specializations e.g.: Italy.

17.   Intellectuals are the “‘deputies’” (1143) of the ruling class “exercising the subaltern functions of hegemony and political government”

18.   The function of intellectuals is organize “social hegemony and state domination” (1143).

Done by: Bahja Ahmed, Entisar Sabah and Hawra'a Hussain.