The notion of transformism in Gramscian theories and its application to social movements studies

The notion of transformism in Gramscian theories and its application to social movements studies

Kulaev M.A.,

St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia,

ORCID: 0000-0002-8033-3299 |

Article received: 2023.02.19. Accepted: 2023.08.18

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2024.02.10

For citation:

Kulaev M.A. The notion of transformism in Gramscian theories and its application to social movements studies. – Polis. Political Studies. 2024. No. 2. P. 135-150. (In Russ.). EDN: OLAEKJ


The current article examines the notion of transformism within the framework of Gramscian theories. This term was initially used to describe parliamentary politics in Italy and meant the cooptation of radical parties into the government under the leadership of moderate parties and the subsequent moderation of radical parties. Antonio Gramsci rethinks transformism and defines it as the strengthening of the ruling class through the absorption of active elements from other classes. Although this can be found in works of some scholars utilizing different Gramscian approaches, it still requires some concretization. The article examines the development of this notion in Gramsci's texts as well as its usage in the Gramscian political economy and Ernesto Laclau's theory. The article demonstrates that the notion of transformism can be applied to social movements studies. Under conditions of transformism separate achievements of social movements turn into strategic failures. The functioning of transformism is based mainly on trade-offs between upper and lower classes. Upper classes satisfy some demands from below and lower classes constrain their discontent to cooperate with upper classes. Transformism amounts to the absence of independence of social movements, their readiness for trade-offs, cooperation with the authorities and parliamentary mechanisms as well as organizational weakness.

political theory, social movements, history of ideas, hegemony, transformism, Gramscianism, protests.


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