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Hegemony vs. Ideology: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 18, 2023
Hegemony is dominance of one group over others, often culturally and politically. Ideology is a system of beliefs, values, and ideas guiding an individual or group.

Key Differences

Hegemony involves the dominance or leadership of one group over others, often seen in political or cultural contexts. Ideology, by contrast, refers to a set of beliefs, values, or ideas that underpin political, economic, or social systems.
While hegemony implies a form of control or influence exerted by a dominant group, ideology represents the underlying principles or philosophy that guide an individual or group. Hegemony often employs ideology as a tool to maintain its dominance.
Hegemony can manifest in subtle ways, influencing societal norms and practices without overt coercion. Ideologies, however, are more explicit, outlining a clear set of ideas or beliefs that guide actions and judgments.
The concept of hegemony often includes aspects of cultural dominance, where the ruling group's values and norms become the standard. In contrast, an ideology can exist without power, simply as a belief system shared by a group.
Hegemony is more about the practical exercise of power and influence. Ideology, on the other hand, is concerned with the theoretical foundation of ideas and beliefs.

Comparison Chart


Dominance of one group over others
A system of beliefs and values


Power and influence
Ideas and principles


Often cultural and political
Found in political, economic, social beliefs

Role in Society

Exerting control, often subtly
Guiding actions and philosophies

Relationship with Power

Directly related to exercising power
Can exist independently of power structures

Hegemony and Ideology Definitions


Power exercised by a dominant group.
Corporate hegemony influences economic policies.


A system of beliefs and values.
Their ideology was rooted in environmentalism.


Dominance of one group over others.
The hegemony of the empire was evident in its vast colonies.


Ideas that underpin social structures.
Capitalist ideology dominates global economics.


Subtle influence over societal norms.
The hegemony of popular culture is undeniable.


Guiding principles for political systems.
Democracy is central to American ideology.


Cultural and political leadership.
The media's hegemony shapes public opinion.


Philosophical foundation of a movement.
The ideology of pacifism rejects all forms of violence.


The predominance of one state or social group over others.


Beliefs guiding individual or group actions.
Her ideology influenced her humanitarian work.


(formal) Domination, influence, or authority over another, especially by one political group over a society or by one nation over others.


A set of doctrines or beliefs that are shared by the members of a social group or that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.


Dominance of one social group over another, such that the ruling group or hegemon acquires some degree of consent from the subordinate, as opposed to dominance purely by force.
The two political parties battled viciously for hegemony.


Doctrine, philosophy, body of beliefs or principles belonging to an individual or group.
A dictatorship bans things, that do not conform to its ideology, to secure its reign.


Leadership; preponderant influence or authority; - usually applied to the relation of a government or state to its neighbors or confederates.


(uncountable) The study of the origin and nature of ideas.


The domination of one state over its allies


The science of ideas.


Control exerted without overt force.
The hegemony of the ruling party is maintained through propaganda.


A theory of the origin of ideas which derives them exclusively from sensation.


A set or system of theories and beliefs held by an individual or group, especially about sociopolitical goals and methods to attain them; in common usage, ideology is such a set of beliefs so strongly held by their adherents as to cause them to ignore evidence against such beliefs, and thus fall into error - in this sense it is viewed as a negative trait; contrasted to pragmatism, and distinct from idealism.


An orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation


Imaginary or visionary theorization


Does hegemony imply negative connotations?

Often, as it implies dominance and control.

How is hegemony maintained?

Through cultural and political influence, often subtly.

Can ideologies change over time?

Yes, ideologies evolve with societal changes.

What is an ideology?

An ideology is a system of beliefs and values.

Is ideology always political?

Not always, it can be social, economic, or cultural as well.

How do ideologies form?

Through cultural, historical, and social influences.

What is hegemony?

Hegemony is the dominance of one group over others.

Can hegemony exist without ideology?

Rarely, as hegemony often uses ideology to maintain control.

Can ideologies be positive?

Yes, ideologies can promote positive values and change.

Can a society have multiple hegemonies?

Typically, one group dominates, but sub-hegemonies can exist.

Do ideologies need power to exist?

No, they can exist independently of power structures.

Is hegemony always visible?

Not always, it can be exerted subtly.

Can hegemony be beneficial?

It can bring stability but often at the cost of diversity.

Are ideologies inherent or learned?

Ideologies are usually learned and adopted.

Can an individual have multiple ideologies?

Yes, individuals can hold complex, overlapping beliefs.

How does hegemony affect culture?

It often dictates cultural norms and values.

Can hegemony be challenged?

Yes, through social movements and changes in power dynamics.

Are ideologies universal?

No, they vary greatly across cultures and groups.

Is hegemony always political?

It's primarily political but can be cultural too.

Does ideology shape personal identity?

Yes, it significantly influences one's beliefs and actions.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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