Hegemony, Agency, and Dialectical Tension in Ellul’s Technological Society

Document Type


Publication Date



Recent writers have questioned hegemony theory as a way of understanding the relationship among the citizen, the media, and the state. In this essay I propose the work of Jacques Ellul for reconceptualizing this relationship. Ellul's focus on a technological state and a mass-mediated society presents a powerful alternative to Gramsci's focus. Ellul argued that the modern state is the product of the invasion of technique throughout society. Such an environment demands a form of communication Ellul described as propaganda. This view does not offer great hope for political groups to bring about fundamental social change. Instead, it suggests that the primary role of the social critic is to stand in dialectical tension to the technological state.