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Ideology

 

Explanations > Critical Theory > Concepts > Ideology

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

An ideology is more than a set of ideas. It is more than a set of beliefs. It is more than a way of being.

When we live completely within an ideology, and we can hardly do otherwise, the ideology creates our lives. It creates our sense of identity. It creates us.

We are apparently free agents, yet we are trapped in ideologies through which we see and make sense of the world. We speak its scripts. We speak ourselves from, and are spoken by, subject positions of language and culture.

We have to find ourselves in the ideologies available to us through culture and language, and without them we are lost. As such, we consent to and reproduce the ideology.

Discussion

Althusser provided much of these ideas in his reinterpretation of Marxism, where he sees the structure of ideology as 'speculary', as in Lacan's mirror phase. In fact there is a double effect as it allows people to recognize both themselves and others.

He also says that 'ideology interpellates individuals as subjects'.

Although Althusser implies that people are created by the ideology and hence lack volition, his description of interpellation implies a degree of autonomy on the part of the hailer.

Althusser was arguably trapped by his own adulation of Marxism, using its tenets against Western ideologies without recognizing that Marxism was just another ideology itself. He also was trapped by the same reflexivity that limits Lacanian psychoanalysis in constraining the potential for self-determination.

Zizek says that ideology is more than cultural reproduction of meaning and includes the involvement of the self in the social context, beyond interpellation and internalization as it outstrips its own social and political forms.

See also

Subject, Movies, Mirror phase

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