The deconstruction of realist notions of power in the international relations literature led to alternative considerations of how global power is established and spread. Amongst these critical approaches, theories based on Gramsci's notion of hegemony are particularly persuasive in their explanations of how global capitalism became dominant and naturalized as a system of power (Cox 1987; Gill 1993; Mittelman 1996). According to these accounts, global politics take place in the context of a world order that is in part constructed and naturalized by ideas and ideologies. The current world order, characterized by Robert Cox as Pax Americana, is constituted on the basis of a hegemonic liberal economic discourse that privileges the free movement of goods, money, and investment across borders. Although couched in terms of openness, free trade, and deregulation, this ideology in fact benefits the United States disproportionately because of the predominance of US multinationals and banks in the global economy. In addition to the US government, various international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) also reinforce neoliberal economic ideology. OECD countries, with the United States exerting hegemonic dominance, finance and control these ostensibly "international" organizations.
Stephen Gill (1988) amplifies Cox's ideas by positing the formation of a transnational bourgeoisie, exemplified by the Trilateral Commission, which orchestrates and reinforces the spread of Pax Americana. Both Gill's and Cox's accounts describe a class-based, capitalist world order structured by the mode of production. Specific actors may construct world orders in highly ideological terms, but such orders are ultimately forged on the basis of a particular mode of production, in the case of Pax Americana, one based on the internationalization of production processes.
Although these approaches provide essential insights into the formation of a kind of transnational rule outside the realm of raw power politics, they lack a cultural dimension. Despite their heavy reliance on the work of Antonio Gramsci, who placed particular emphasis on the role of cultural institutions in embedding capitalism in social practices, none of these interpretations makes reference to