Discordia, Hegemony, and Popular Subjectivities: Towards a Model for the Study of Social Conflict in Ancient Rome.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This study is a methodological and historiographical discussion of four key theoretical concepts for the analysis of social conflict in the long phase of transition from Gaius Gracchus' death (121 BCE) to the Tiberian age. It aims to lay the foundations for a model for the investigation of the production of political discourse concerning social conflict in Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome, which is here understood as the result of a dialectic between the elites and the masses. The study of ideology has long been a crucial component of the research on Roman political culture. Nevertheless, theorisation and explicit discussions of how ideology works have only recently found place in the scholarly literature. Similarly, over the last three decades, the role of the crowd in Roman political has also become an increasingly prominent question. However, scholarship has struggled to agree on categories and definitions for popular subjectivities. This thesis proposes a study of three categories to think with when reflecting upon the agency of the masses in political life and their dialectical relationship with the political, cultural, and economic elites. In the first part, Gramsci's 'constellation' of ideology/hegemony, testing the validity of his categories of religione, folklore, filosofia, and senso comune will be discussed, aiming to enable a sharper understand of the different roles played by different actors in shaping ideology. The two categories for popular subjectivities discussed in the second part - the People and multitude- aim to offer a new taxonomy of the masses' intervention on the public scene, which can help distinguish different phenomena until now lumped under the generic label of 'collective actions'. To test the viability of the categories, a range of case studies drawn from the history of the Late Republic and Early Principate underpin the theoretical and methodological discussion in each chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Newcastle University
Thesis sponsors
Award date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - Sept 2020

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