Ideology
Overview
 
An ideology is a set of idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions
Action theory (philosophy)
Action theory is an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of more or less complex kind. This area of thought has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics...

. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization
Socialization
Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies...

).
Quotations

The emphasis of study upon a particular aspect of music is in itself ideological because it contains implications about the music's value.

Lucy Green (1999). Ideology. Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture. Malden, Massachusetts. ISBN 0631212639.

Encyclopedia
An ideology is a set of idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions
Action theory (philosophy)
Action theory is an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of more or less complex kind. This area of thought has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics...

. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization
Socialization
Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies...

). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. It is how society sees things.

(For the Marxist definition of ideology, see Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction below.)

History

The term "ideology" was born in the highly controversial philosophical and political debates and fights of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and acquired several other meanings from the early days of the First French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 to the present. The word was coined by Destutt de Tracy
Destutt de Tracy
Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, comte de Tracy was a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher who coined the term "ideology".-Life:The son of a distinguished soldier, Claude Destutt, he was born in Paris...

 in 1796, assembling the parts idea (near to the Lockean
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 sense) and -logy
-logy
-logy is a suffix in the English language, used with words originally adapted from Ancient Greek language ending in -λογία...

. He used it to refer to one aspect of his "science of ideas" (to the study itself, not the subject of the study). He separated three aspects, namely: ideology, general grammar, and logic, considering respectively the subject, the means, and the reason of this science. He argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas also contains the study of their expression and deduction.

According to Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim , or Károly Mannheim in the original writing of his name, was a Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology and a founder of the sociology of knowledge.-Life:Mannheim studied in Budapest,...

's historical reconstruction of the shifts in the meaning of ideology, the modern meaning of the word was born when Napoleon Bonaparte (as a politician) used it in an abusive way against "the ideologues" (a group which included Cabanis
Pierre Jean George Cabanis
-Further reading:- Further reading :----...

, Condorcet
Marquis de Condorcet
Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet , known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist whose Condorcet method in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election...

, Constant
Benjamin Constant
Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque was a Swiss-born French nobleman, thinker, writer and politician.-Biography:...

, Daunou
Pierre Claude François Daunou
Pierre Claude François Daunou was a French statesman and historian of the French Revolution and Empire.- Early career :...

, Say
Jean-Baptiste Say
Jean-Baptiste Say was a French economist and businessman. He had classically liberal views and argued in favor of competition, free trade, and lifting restraints on business...

, Madame de Staël
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein , commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French-speaking Swiss author living in Paris and abroad. She influenced literary tastes in Europe at the turn of the 19th century.- Childhood :...

, and Tracy
Destutt de Tracy
Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, comte de Tracy was a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher who coined the term "ideology".-Life:The son of a distinguished soldier, Claude Destutt, he was born in Paris...

), to express the pettiness of his (liberal republican) political opponents.

Perhaps the most accessible source for the near-original meaning of ideology is Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate...

's work on the Ancien Regime (the first volume of "Origins of Contemporary France"). He describes ideology as rather like teaching philosophy by the Socratic method
Socratic method
The Socratic method , named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas...

, but without extending the vocabulary beyond what the general reader already possessed, and without the examples from observation that practical science would require. Taine identifies it not just with Destutt De Tracy, but also with his milieu, and includes Condillac
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac was a French philosopher and epistemologist who studied in such areas as psychology and the philosophy of the mind.-Biography:...

 as one of its precursors. (Tracy read the works of Locke and Condillac while he was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

.)

The word "ideology" was coined long before the Russians coined "intelligentsia", or before the adjective "intellectual" referred to a sort of person (see substantive), i.e. an intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

. Thus these words were not around when the hard-headed, driven Napoleon Bonaparte took the word "ideologues" to ridicule his intellectual opponents. Gradually, however, the term "ideology" has dropped some of its pejorative sting, and has become a neutral term in the analysis of differing political opinions and views of social groups. While Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 situated the term within class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

 and domination, others believed it was a necessary part of institutional functioning
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 and social integration
Social cohesion
Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena...

.

Analysis

Meta-ideology is the study of the structure, form, and manifestation of ideologies. Meta-ideology posits that ideology is a coherent system of ideas, relying upon a few basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis, but are subjective choices that serve as the seed around which further thought grows. According to this perspective, ideologies are neither right nor wrong, but only a relativistic intellectual strategy for categorizing the world. The pluses and minuses of ideology range from the vigor and fervor of true believers to ideological infallibility. Excessive need for certitude lurks at fundamentalist levels in politics and religions.

The works of George Walford and Harold Walsby, done under the heading of systematic ideology
Systematic ideology
Systematic ideology is a study of ideologies founded in the late 1930s in and around London, England by Harold Walsby, George Walford and others. It seeks to understand the origin and development of ideologies, how ideologies and ideological groups work together, and the possibilities of guiding...

, are attempts to explore the relationships between ideology and social systems. Charles Blattberg
Charles Blattberg
Charles Blattberg is a professor of political philosophy at the Université de Montréal. Blattberg grew up in Toronto and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, where he also served as president of its Students’ Administrative Council during the 1989–90 academic...

 has offered an account which distinguishes political ideologies from political philosophies.

David W. Minar describes six different ways in which the word "ideology" has been used:
  1. As a collection of certain ideas with certain kinds of content, usually normative;
  2. As the form or internal logical structure that ideas have within a set;
  3. By the role in which ideas play in human-social interaction;
  4. By the role that ideas play in the structure of an organization;
  5. As meaning, whose purpose is persuasion; and
  6. As the locus of social interaction, possibly.


For Willard A. Mullins, an ideology is composed of four basic characteristics:
  1. it must have power over cognition
  2. it must be capable of guiding one's evaluations;
  3. it must provide guidance towards action;
  4. and, as stated above, it must be logically coherent.


Mullins emphasizes that an ideology should be contrasted with the related (but different) issues of utopia and historical myth.

The German philosopher Christian Duncker called for a "critical reflection of the ideology concept" (2006). In his work, he strove to bring the concept of ideology into the foreground, as well as the closely connected concerns of epistemology and history. In this work, the term ideology is defined in terms of a system of presentations that explicitly or implicitly claim to absolute truth.

Though the word "ideology" is most often found in political discourse, there are many different kinds of ideology: political, social
Social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

, epistemological, ethical, etc.

Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction

In the Marxist economic base and superstructure model of society, base denotes the relations of production
Relations of production
Relations of production is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their theory of historical materialism, and in Das Kapital...

, and superstructure denotes the dominant ideology (religious, legal, political systems). The economic base of production determines the political superstructure of a society. Ruling class-interests determine the superstructure and the nature of the justifying ideology—actions feasible because the ruling class control the means of production. For example, in a feudal mode of production
Mode of production
In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production is a specific combination of:...

, religious ideology is the most prominent aspect of the superstructure, while in capitalist formations, ideologies such as liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 dominate. Hence the great importance of the ideology justifying a society; it politically confuses the alienated groups of society via false consciousness, such as in the case of commodity fetishism
Commodity fetishism
In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things .The...

—the belief that value
Theory of value (economics)
"Theory of value" is a generic term which encompasses all the theories within economics that attempt to explain the exchange value or price of goods and services...

 is inherent to a commodity, rather than external, added to it via labor.

The ruling class affect their social reproduction by the dominant ideology
Dominant ideology
The dominant ideology, in Marxist theory, is the set of common values and beliefs shared by most people in a given society, framing how the majority think about a range of topics...

's representing—to every social-economic class—that the economic interests of the ruling class are the economic interests of the entire society. Some explanations have been presented. György Lukács proposes ideology as a projection
Psychological projection
Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people...

 of the class consciousness
Class consciousness
Class consciousness is consciousness of one's social class or economic rank in society. From the perspective of Marxist theory, it refers to the self-awareness, or lack thereof, of a particular class; its capacity to act in its own rational interests; or its awareness of the historical tasks...

 of the ruling class. Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

 uses cultural hegemony
Cultural hegemony
Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological theory, by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally diverse society can be dominated by one social class, by manipulating the societal culture so that its ruling-class worldview is imposed as the societal norm, which then is...

 to explain why the working-class have a false ideological conception of what are their best interests.

Chronologically, the dominant ideologies in Capitalism are:
  1. classical liberalism
    Classical liberalism
    Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

  2. modern liberalism
  3. social democracy
    Social democracy
    Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

  4. neo-liberalism


corresponding to these three capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 stages of development:
  1. extensive stage
    Extensive stage
    Extensive stage, or by its full name, predominantly extensive stage of accumulation is pertains at one of the periodizations of capitalism, as proposed by Aglietta . It is the first stage of capitalism and thus in it there is plenty of room for the extension of capitalist relations of production,...

  2. intensive stage
    Intensive stage
    Intensive stage, or by its full name, predominantly intensive stage of accumulation pertains to one of the periodizations of capitalism, as proposed by Aglietta...

  3. contemporary capitalism (late capitalism
    Late capitalism
    "Late capitalism" is a term used by neo-Marxists to refer to capitalism from about 1945 onwards, with the implication that it is a historically limited stage rather than an eternal feature of all future human society. Postwar German sociologists needed a term to describe contemporary society...

    )


The Marxist formulation of "ideology as an instrument of social reproduction" is conceptually important to the sociology of knowledge
Sociology of knowledge
The Sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies...

, viz. Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim , or Károly Mannheim in the original writing of his name, was a Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology and a founder of the sociology of knowledge.-Life:Mannheim studied in Budapest,...

, Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his seminal contributions to the study of post-industrialism...

, and Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 et al. Moreover, Mannheim has developed, and progressed, from the "total" but "special" Marxist conception of ideology to a "general" and "total" ideological conception acknowledging that all ideology (including Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

) resulted from social life, an idea developed by the sociologist
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location,...

.

Louis Althusser's Ideological State Apparatuses

Louis Althusser
Louis Althusser
Louis Pierre Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy....

 proposed a materialistic conception of ideology, which made use of a special type of discourse: the lacunar discourse. A number of propositions, which are never untrue, suggest a number of other propositions, which are. In this way, the essence of the lacunar discourse is what is not told (but is suggested).

For example, the statement "All are equal before the law," which is a theoretical groundwork of current legal systems, suggests that all people may be of equal worth or have equal "opportunities". This is not true, for the concept of private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

 and power over the means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

 results in some people being able to own more (much more) than others. This power disparity contradicts the claim that all share both practical worth and future opportunity equally; for example, the rich can afford better legal representation, which practically privileges them before the law.

Althusser also proffered the concept of the Ideological State Apparatus to explain his theory of ideology. His first thesis was "ideology has no history": while individual ideologies have histories, interleaved with the general class struggle of society, the general form of ideology is external to history. His second thesis, "Ideas are material", explains his materialistic attitude, which he illustrates with the "scandalous advice" of Pascal
Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal , was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Catholic philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen...

 toward unbelievers: "kneel and pray, and then you will believe". For Althusser, beliefs and ideas are the products of social practices, not the reverse. What is ultimately important for Althusser are not the subjective beliefs held in the "minds" of human individuals, but rather the material institutions, rituals, and discourses that produce these beliefs.

Feminism as critique of ideology

Naturalizing socially constructed patterns of behavior has always been an important mechanism in the production and reproduction of ideologies. Feminist theorists have paid close attention to these mechanisms. Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Cecile Rich is an American poet, essayist and feminist. She has been called "one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century."-Early life:...

, for example, has shown how to understand motherhood as a social institution. However, feminism is not a homogeneous whole, and some corners of feminist thought criticize the critique of social constructionism
Social constructionism
Social constructionism and social constructivism are sociological theories of knowledge that consider how social phenomena or objects of consciousness develop in social contexts. A social construction is a concept or practice that is the construct of a particular group...

, by advocating that it disregards too much of human nature and natural tendencies. The debate, they say, is about the normative/naturalistic fallacy—the idea that just something "being" natural does not necessarily mean it "ought" to be the case.

Political ideologies

Many political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 base their political action and program on an ideology. In social studies
Social studies
Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the American National Council for the Social Studies...

, a Political Ideology is a certain ethical set of ideals
Ideal (ethics)
An ideal is a principle or value that one actively pursues as a goal. Ideals are particularly important in ethics, as the order in which one places them tends to determine the degree to which one reveals them as real and sincere. It is the application, in ethics, of a universal...

, principles, doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

s, myth
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

s, or symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s of a social movement
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

, institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

, class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, or large group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

 and to what ends it should be used. Some parties follow a certain ideology very closely, while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them.

Political ideologies have two dimensions:
  1. Goals: how society should work
  2. Methods: the most appropriate ways to achieve the ideal arrangement.


An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government
Form of government
A form of government, or form of state governance, refers to the set of political institutions by which a government of a state is organized. Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".-Empirical and conceptual problems:...

 (e.g. democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, theocracy
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

, etc.), and the best economic system
Economic system
An economic system is the combination of the various agencies, entities that provide the economic structure that defines the social community. These agencies are joined by lines of trade and exchange along which goods, money etc. are continuously flowing. An example of such a system for a closed...

 (e.g. capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, etc.). Sometimes the same word is used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas. For instance, "socialism" may refer to an economic system, or it may refer to an ideology which supports that economic system.

Ideologies also identify themselves by their position on the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

 (such as the left
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

, the center or the right
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

), though this is very often controversial. Finally, ideologies can be distinguished from political strategies (e.g. populism
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

) and from single issues that a party may be built around (e.g. legalization of marijuana). Philosopher Michael Oakeshott provides a good definition of ideology as "the formalized abridgment of the supposed sub-stratum of the rational truth contained in the tradition."

Studies of the concept of ideology itself (rather than specific ideologies) have been carried out under the name of systematic ideology
Systematic ideology
Systematic ideology is a study of ideologies founded in the late 1930s in and around London, England by Harold Walsby, George Walford and others. It seeks to understand the origin and development of ideologies, how ideologies and ideological groups work together, and the possibilities of guiding...

.

Political ideologies are concerned with many different aspects of a society, some of which are: the economy
Economic system
An economic system is the combination of the various agencies, entities that provide the economic structure that defines the social community. These agencies are joined by lines of trade and exchange along which goods, money etc. are continuously flowing. An example of such a system for a closed...

, education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, labor law, criminal law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

, the justice system, the provision of social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

 and social welfare, trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

, the environment
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, minors
Minor (law)
In law, a minor is a person under a certain age — the age of majority — which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood; the age depends upon jurisdiction and application, but is typically 18...

, immigration
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

, race, use of the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

, and established religion.

There are many proposed methods for the classification of political ideologies. See the political spectrum
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

article for a more in-depth discussion of these different methods (each of whom generates a specific political spectrum).

Today, many commentators claim that we are living in a post-ideological age, in which redemptive, all-encompassing ideologies have failed, and this is often associated with Francis Fukuyama's
Francis Fukuyama
Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist, political economist, and author. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford. Before that he served as a professor and director of the International Development program at the School of...

 writings on "the end of history".

Epistemological ideologies

Even when the challenging of existing beliefs is encouraged, as in scientific theories, the dominant paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

 or mindset
Mindset
In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people or groups of people which is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices,...

 can prevent certain challenges, theories, or experiments from being advanced.

A special case of science adopted as ideology is that of ecology, which studies the relationships among living things on Earth. Perceptual psychologist
Perceptual psychology
Perceptual psychology is a subfield of cognitive psychology that is concerned specifically with the pre-conscious innate aspects of the human cognitive system: perception....

 James J. Gibson believed that human perception of ecological relationships was the basis of self-awareness
Self-awareness
Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals...

 and cognition
Cognition
In science, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science...

 itself. Linguist
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 George Lakoff
George Lakoff
George P. Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972...

 has proposed a cognitive science of mathematics wherein even the most fundamental ideas of arithmetic would be seen as consequences or products of human perception—which is itself necessarily evolved within an ecology.

Deep ecology
Deep ecology
Deep ecology is a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes an inherent worth of all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of organisms within ecosystems and that of ecosystems with each other within the...

 and the modern ecology movement
Ecology movement
The global ecology movement is based upon environmental protection, and is one of several new social movements that emerged at the end of the 1960s. As a values-driven social movement, it should be distinguished from the pre-existing science of ecology....

 (and, to a lesser degree, Green parties) appear to have adopted ecological sciences as a positive ideology.

Some accuse ecological economics
Ecological economics
Image:Sustainable development.svg|right|The three pillars of sustainability. Clickable.|275px|thumbpoly 138 194 148 219 164 240 182 257 219 277 263 291 261 311 264 331 272 351 283 366 300 383 316 394 287 408 261 417 224 424 182 426 154 423 119 415 87 403 58 385 40 368 24 347 17 328 13 309 16 286 26...

 of likewise turning scientific theory into political economy
Political economy
Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

, although theses in that science can often be tested. The modern practice of green economics fuses both approaches and seems to be part science, part ideology.

This is far from the only theory of economics to be raised to ideology status—some notable economically based ideologies include mercantilism
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

, mixed economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

, social Darwinism
Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism is a term commonly used for theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, seeking to apply the principles of Darwinian evolution to sociology and politics...

, communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, laissez-faire economics
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

, and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

. There are also current theories of safe trade
Safe trade
Safe trade is a slogan advocated by Greenpeace in its desire to "green" the World Trade Organisation and the Doha Development Round. It is designed to compete with "free trade" as a concept....

 and fair trade
Fair trade
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards...

 which can be seen as ideologies.

Psychological research

Psychological research increasingly suggests that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. Research in 2008 proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to understand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships. The authors conclude that such motives may lead disproportionately to the adoption of system-justifying
System justification
System justification theory is a scientific theory within social psychology that proposes people have a motivation to defend and bolster the status quo, that is, to see it as good, legitimate, and desirable....

 worldviews. Psychologists have generally found that personality traits, individual difference variables, needs, and ideological beliefs seem to have a common thread.

Ideology and semiotic theory

According to the semiotician Bob Hodge, ideology "identifies a unitary object that incorporates complex sets of meanings with the social agents and processes that produced them. No other term captures this object as well as 'ideology'. Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

's 'episteme
Episteme
Episteme, as distinguished from techne, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ἐπιστήμη for knowledge or science, which comes from the verb ἐπίσταμαι, "to know".- The Concept of an "Episteme" in Michel Foucault :...

' is too narrow and abstract, not social enough. His 'discourse', popular because it covers some of ideology's terrain with less baggage, is too confined to verbal systems. 'Worldview' is too metaphysical, 'propaganda' too loaded. Despite or because of its contradictions, 'ideology' still plays a key role in semiotics oriented to social, political life". Authors such as Michael Freeden
Michael Freeden
Michael Freeden is a professor of politics currently serving as the director of the Centre for Political Ideologies at the University of Oxford where he is also professorial tutor at Mansfield College. He is also the founding editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies.-Study of...

 have also recently incorporated a semantic
Semantics
Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata....

 analysis to the study of ideologies.

In everyday society

In public discussions, certain ideas arise more commonly than others. Often people with diverse backgrounds and interests may find themselves thinking alike in ways startling to those from other backgrounds. Social scientists might explain this phenomenon as evidence of ideologies.

Dominant ideologies appear as "neutral", holding to assumptions that are largely unchallenged. Meanwhile, all other ideologies that differ from the dominant ideology are seen as radical, no matter what the content of their actual vision may be. The philosopher Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 wrote about the concept of apparent ideological neutrality
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

. Ideology is not the same thing as philosophy. Philosophy is an analytic method for assessing ideologies and belief systems. Some attribute to ideology positive characteristics like vigor and fervor, or negative features like excessive certitude and fundamentalist rigor.

Organizations that strive for power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

 will try to influence the ideology of a society to become closer to what they want it to be. Political organizations (government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

s included) and other groups (e.g. lobbyists) try to influence people by broadcasting their opinions.

When most people in a society come to consensus on matters inherently contestable, or even forget that there are alternatives to the status quo, we arrive at the concept of hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

, about which the philosopher Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

 wrote. Such a state of affairs has been dramatized many times in literature: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

by George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

; Brave New World
Brave New World
Brave New World is Aldous Huxley's fifth novel, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540 , the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology and sleep-learning that combine to change society. The future society is an embodiment of the ideals that form the basis of...

by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

; and A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The story revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract. The book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and...

by Madeleine L'Engle
Madeleine L'Engle
Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her young-adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time...

. Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 and Edward S. Herman
Edward S. Herman
Edward S. Herman is an American economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. He is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also teaches at Annenberg School for...

 have argued that social ideological homogeneity can be achieved by restricting and filtering the political, social, and economic information transmitted by mass communication.

See also

  • State ideology of the Soviet Union
  • Hegemony
    Hegemony
    Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

  • -ism
  • List of ideologies named after people
  • Noble lie
    Noble lie
    In politics a noble lie is a myth or untruth, often, but not invariably, of a religious nature, knowingly told by an elite to maintain social harmony. The noble lie is a concept originated by Plato as described in the Republic.-Plato's Republic:...

  • Paradigm
    Paradigm
    The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

  • Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes
    Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes
    Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes is a landmark work on the subject of propaganda by French philosopher,theologian, and sociologist Jacques Ellul. This book appears to be the first attempt to study propaganda from a sociological approach as well as a psychological one...

  • Social criticism
    Social criticism
    The term social criticism locates the reasons for malicious conditions of the society in flawed social structures. People adhering to a social critics aim at practical solutions by specific measures, often consensual reform but sometimes also by powerful revolution.- European roots :Religious...

  • Socially constructed reality
  • System justification
    System justification
    System justification theory is a scientific theory within social psychology that proposes people have a motivation to defend and bolster the status quo, that is, to see it as good, legitimate, and desirable....



Further reading


External links


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