• An ideology is a worldview or set of beliefs and values.
  • In sociology it is often defined as:
    • Distorted, false or biased ideas about the world.
    • Ideas that conceal interests of a group or justify their privilege.
    • Ideas that prevent change by misleading people.
    • A self-sustaining belief system closed to criticism.
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Marxism and Ideology

  • See class a divided into two opposed classes.
  • The capitalist class exploit the workers' labour for profit.
  • It is in the interest of the working class to overthrow capitalism with a socialist revolution.
  • Would be replaced by a classless communist society.
  • For this to occur workers need to develop a class consciousness.
  • However capitalists control production of ideas through education, religion and mass media.
    • Produces a ruling-class ideology that legitimates the status quo.
      • equality is against human nature.
      • theory of meritocracy blames victims for being poor.
      • racist ideas divide black and white workers making them easier to control.
      • nationalist ideas.
  • Ruling-class ideology prevents change by creating a false consciousness among workers.
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Hegemony and Revolution


  • Refers to ruling-class ideological domination of society as hegemony.
  • Argues that workers have a dual consciousness.
    • A mixture of ruling-class ideology and ideas developed through their experience.
  • Therefore it is possible to overthrow capitalism.
  • Requires a political party of organic intellectuals.
    • Workers who developed class consciousness and can spread the message.


  • It is not a dominant ideology that keeps workers from rebelling, but a fear of unemployment.
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Ideology and Utopia


  • Sees all belief systems as partial or one-sided worldviews.
  • Distinguishes between 2 types of belief system:
    • Ideological Thought
      • justifies keeping things as they are.
      • reflects interests of privileged groups.
      • conservative and favours hierarchy.
    • Utopian Thought
      • justifies social change.
      • reflects position of underprivileged.
      • offers vision of how society could/should be.
  • These systems only represent the interest of certain groups.
  • Only gives partial truth about the world so becomes a source of conflict.
  • Solution: detach intellectuals from social groups and create a free-floating intelligentsia to join elements of partial ideologies/utopias to create a total world view.
  • However political ideologies often diametrically oppose each other.
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Feminism and Ideology

  • Feminists see gender inequality as the fundamental division in society.
  • See patriarchal ideology as playing a key role in legitimating it.
  • Marks - describes how scientific ideas have been used to exclude women from education.
  • Patriarchal ideologies in religious belief establish women as inferior.
    • women are often regarded as ritually impure because of childbirth/menstruation.
  • Not all elements of religious belief subordinate women.
    • matriarchal religions were widespread before the emergence of major monotheistic religions.
    • Hinduism - goddesses are portrayed as mothers/creators of the universe.
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