Ideology (Concept of)

  • Created by: KDallers-
  • Created on: 03-06-19 14:25

Introduction to Ideology

Ideology - about the 'isms' of politics and the prevalence of IDEAS in politics; these determine HOW WE LOOK AT THINGS, and can be influenced by PARTISAN BELIEFS - they mean that people CIRCUMVENT the decision-making process and jump to conclusions - unwilling to consider evidence;  contributes to the POST-TRUTH ERA and depoliticisation; a CONFIRMATION BIAS formed, where individuals screen evidence SELECTIVELY - HEURISTIC responses

History of ideology: began with A.D de Tracy; proclaimed a 'science of ideas' as a new field of study, focussing on why people think like they do - empirical psychology - however, Tracy saw this as a basis for a rational. and progressive society - wanted to promote LIBERAL ideas - so study is ideological itself? C.Jones - "allowing social groups to make sense of the world"

HOWEVER, this was challenged by Napoleon - he saw ideologues like Tracy as 'armchair metaphysicians' - did not want to get into abstract values, but wanted to protect authority - believed that ideology was all about DOCTRINES and what we call 'ISMS'

Key features of an ideology - PROBLEM at the time, - VISION, and - A METHOD

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Marxist view of Ideology

Marxism sees a PROBLEM (capitalism), a SOLUTION (get rid of it) and a METHOD (revolution for most) - however, Marx opposed ideologies in general - saw them as idealist, bourgeois and an instrument of control - called Tracy a 'bourgeois doctrinaire' - argued that the "ideas of the ruling class are in ever epoch the ruling ideas" - a 'system of oppression'

- Supported by Engels who saw ideology as a "false consciousness", with ideologues being STUBBORN AND DOGMATIC - unwilling to change and compromise

Marx - saw ideology as concerned with SOCIAL RELATIONS - an anti-Hegelian view, which emerged from the economic situation of many people - however, he did not believe that the bourgeoisie were CYNICALLY using ideoloy to oppress - more of a 'hidden system of oppression' - ideology was the 'mental resolution' of class interests - led to oppression and indoctrination by the bourgeoisie

Lenin - different - saw socialism as an ideology, but was anti-bourgeois - ideology as DOCTRINE; Gramsci - ideology as 'hegemony'; the ruling class holds an ideological hegemony over society, reflecting the state and capitalism; had to be overcome through STRUGGLE; supported by Althusser, who saw an 'ideological state apparatus' that dominated the people, or subjects - this ideology was viewed as 'eternal' without struggle - theory of INTERPELLATION

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Other Pejorative Views

Mannheim - challenged Marx with a paradox - how can DISCOURSE ABOUT IDEOLOGY NOT BE IDEOLOGICAL IN ITSELF - Marxism not 'scientific', but ideological? Trying to escape the view of oppression that Marx suggested

Two conceptions - PARTICULAR - ideology as a SET OF IDEAS relating to group interests; and TOTAL - ideology relating to the WHOLE OF SOCIETY and a WORLD VIEW - more doctrinaire; Mannheim saw knowledge as RELATIVE, and we need to study the SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE - how? Would this be IDEOLOGICAL? Only a 'free intelligentsia' can; however, we all have IDEOLOGICAL PRECONCEPTIONS - so what is the status of ideology?

Arendt: 'ideologies can explain every occurence - a deceptive means of control', or Oakeshott - 'ideology is pernicious abstract theorising' - anti-metaphysical; sees ideology as imposing a framework on reality which is too rigid and unchanging; Mingoue - ideology privileges SOME GROUPS OVER OTHERS - for example, Marxism privileges the worker - unfair on all other groups

Zizek - ideology is an 'illusion' which generates 'dark fantasies' for people and removes all notions of 'the Real'; Goodwin - no such thing as an AUTONOMOUS IDEA - all ideas are CONTESTED CONCEPTS in terms of ideology

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Positive Conceptions of Ideology

Freeden - ideology provides A VALUBALE INSIGHT; is pervasive and studies how 'the political' impacts lives; all ideologies have a CORE which is set, and OUTER LAYERS which can change; THICK-CENTRE (socialism - equality) or THIN-CENTRE (populism - harder to discover?) - vague

- Freeden - ideologies provide a mixture of emotion and reason - there can be some philosophical elements to ideology, and it can be seen as a MEANS OF UNDERSTANDING; provides a DISTINCT WAY OF EXAMINING IDEAS which forms part of the SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Sartori - ideology seen as explanatory and useful, privileging theory and encouraging mass mobilisation; it is self-constraining, but can be viewed as INDOCTRINATION

Geertz - ideology is part of REPRESENTING CULTURE and helping us UNDERSTAND SOCIAL SITUATIONS - ideology as an 'indispensible part of life' - sees it as adaptable (change and revision), and promoting understanding and engagement with the social world we are part of

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End of Ideology/End of History

This argued that the END OF TOTALITARIANISM and rise of LIBERAL-DEMOCRACY meant that there was a general consensus on basic issues; there was now ideological consensus, and only room to tweak and revise the liberal-democratic framework

- Lipset - a 'fight without ideology', and freedom from ideology - Bell - 'no truth of old ideologies' anymore - a SCIENTIFIC VIEW of society was promoted instead

- FUKUYAMA - post-Cold War, saw the victory of liberal capitalism; history is the STRUGGLE OF IDEOLOGY, and now this was over - were we at the 'end of history'? - Fukuyama says yes; Hegelian - liberal capitalism as the optimum means of achieving happiness

HOWEVER: this thesis is ideological itself - it promotes liberal-democracy above all else as 'the truth' when there are many other ideologies at work around the world - a PARADOXICAL THESIS which is hugely subjective and difficult to prove empirically - for example, what of the rise of populism, dominance of Communist China and existence of nations like Cuba - so subjective that Fukuyama himself has accepted the flaws of this

- MACINTYRE - 'end of ideology is an ideological expression'; Saskena - cites the 2008 crisis as a failure of liberal-democracy - not hegemonic; Camargo - there is 'no universal truth', and ideologies provide different lenses for different people

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Ideology Today + rise of Populism

Ideology today can be considered a GRAND NARRATIVE that allows for the interpretation of reality - more in line with Camargo - it is a less pejorative term; seen by Downs as a 'RACE TO THE CENTRE' - trying to become more moderate, as ideology is still viewed negatively as 'extremist'? Ideology now refers to political parties - most ideological is most extreme

- IDEOLOGIES are not globally coherent - a UK conservative is like a US Democrat, and liberalism has a different meaning in each nation

KEY FEATURES OF IDEOLOGY: - a belief; - explanatory power; - persuasive ability; - empirically verifiable - ideology now attempts to 'reconcile the irreconcilable'; viewed by FOUCAULT as 'power' - discourse in ideologies relfect the balance of power - there is no such thing as an AUTONOMOUS IDEA, as all discourse reflects POWER RELATIONS

Populism - is this an ideology? Has certain features - a monolithic, holistic society; - anti-establishment rhetoric; - authoritarian leaership and - nativism; seen to be CAUSED by either ECONOMIC INSECURITY or CULTURAL BACKLASH - mainly backlash - Norris + Inglehart

- HOWEVER, populism may be THIN-CENTRED - Freeden - has a problem, a vision, but no clear FUTURE PLAN of how they would achieve this? Freeden - populism ISN'T an IDEOLOGY

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Key Thinkers of Ideology

de Tracy - the 'science of ideas'; definitions also by C.Jones

Napoleon - anti-ideology

Marx; Engels; Lenin; Gramsci; Althusser - Marxist conceptions (slightly different)

Mannheim - paradox of ideology

Arendt; Oakeshott; Minogue; Zizek - other pejorative views

Goodwin - ideology as contestation

Freeden; Sartori; Geertz - ideology as positive

Hegel; Bell; Lipset; Fukuyama - the end of history/liberal capitalism succeeding

MacIntyre; Saksena; Camargo - opposed to end of ideology thesis

Norris + Inglehart - causes of populism

Downs - ideology today as a 'race to the centre'

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