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Louis Althusser

*Althusser describes of ideology as 'a system of representations at the heart of a given society.'

He also believes "we are manisfestations of the effects of ideology"



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An ideology "limits" the range of acceptable idea's that a person may consider within a particular cultural context.

It promotes and legitmises certain perspectives and values whilst obscuring or devaluing others.
-Nuclear family is promoted whilst single parent families are devalued.

The main political parties may appear to be arguing different beliefs they all work from the same dominant ideologies.

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By limiting the possible perceptions or interpretations of the world, ideology also normalises certain aspects of it.

The process of defining 'what is normal' is especially important in the realm of social relations.
Those who define what is normal have the power.
This means that established relations of power are made to seem like the natural order of things.

Social roles such as child,student or employee inscribe us into relationships of unequal power as a result of unequal ideological values.

If your a child the hierachies of an adult are more powerful.

This 'normalcy' enables political systems such as capitalism to become a dominant ideology in western society.

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The unequal distribution of power within ideologies gives rise to one of the most important aspects of ideology.

-Religion-Certain religious beliefs outweigh others-englans is seen as predominantly christian.
-News privilege some stories over others.
-Anti-terrorism ideology
-Wars- Justification of loss of life.

The process of normalising relations of power confirms that the views qualities or needs of socially powerful groups are more important than those of the groups they dominate.

Consider this in relation to subjects such as work, marraige and gender relations.

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Louis Althusser used the term interpellation to explain how ideology permeates or infuses into every aspect of culture. He used the term "interpellation" to explain how we are invited to share the normality of consumption.

He argues that we are not individual, original or unique individuals but a collection of different ideological systems fused together into one identity through a process of recognising and responding to an encountered ideology and allowing it to represent us. He called this process 'hailing'.

The process of understanding oneself or forming an identity is a process of ideological recogition.

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Capitalism is a system based on the transfer and use of money.

It works by entraperners or individuals baraganing, trading and investing in products or services.

Karl Marx said 'Capitalism will eat itself.'

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership and on the investment of money in order to make a profit.

Each buisnesstries to provide goods and services that are better and less expensive than their competition.

A MARKET ECONOMY aims to provide the best goods at the lowest prices.

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Disadvantages of being in a Capitalist society

-Unequal wealth
-To much competition
-Exploited for hard work
-Pay is not equal to work type/load
-Relies on risk

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Base and Infrastructure

Marx believed that under capitalism, the relationshp between the economy and the social/cultural sphere is rather like the structure of a house.

The economy makes up the foundations of the house whilst the social and cultural sphere is the bit you can see.

And like a house, the visible superstructure cannot exist without the invisible foundations or infrastructure.

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Marx refered to alienation as a concept about how people feel about their lives and their work.
alienation from "human essence"- being a small cog in a large machine.
Capitalism de-humanises people.

-Alienation between workers and the process of production- work has no meaning to them.

-Alienation between workers and the products of their labour- little or no emotional attatchment to their products.

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Marx called the products of labour "commodities" and in his time workers were less likely to be able to use the commodities they made in factories than now.
He felt there was a dissconnection between the worker and the product they helped to make.
Commodities always represented the exploitation of the worker because of the profit (the difference between the cost to make and the cost made when sold)

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Commodity fetishism

Fetishism is the term used when items or actions are given magical qualities or human powers.

Marx felt that the feelings we attatch to objects is the same and that we believe they have properties more important than the objects themselves.

Commodities include;
Mobile phones
Designer clothes

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The Mass Media

For Marxists the mass media exists not only to serve the ideological interests of the ruling class.
It masks the conflict between classes and promotes the view that the inequalities and exploitation of capitalism are "common sense" with no alternative.

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The Frankfurt School

The Frankfurt school were a group of intellectuals active between 1923 and the 1950's and they researched the media at the time. (Social research)
They believed that ruling class ideologies were disseminated through popular culture such as jazz or hollywood movies.

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False Needs (Frankfurt School continued)

The Frankfurt school believed that advertising creates "false needs" and a desire to consume.
Capitalism conditions us to accept a confined and constrained world rather than focusing on our "real needs" of happiness and freedom.

Our insatiable desire for "stuff" makes us easily controlled and eventually removes our capactiy for free and independent thought.

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Antonio Gramsci

Gramsci used the term Hegemony to describe the process by which we are encouraged to adopt dominant ideologies even when they are designed to keep us under control.

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Theodor Adorno

Adorno considered consumers of popular culture to be "infertile and retarded."

-He believed we crave standardised and cultural products that would validate our own "standardised" lives.

-Cultural products are as understanding, dull and repetitive as work and the idea of freedom of choice and self expression is illusion- we simply immitate others.

-Our comsumption of popular culture makes us docile and apathetic which makes us easier to manipulate.

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Bourdieu and Cultural Capital

These theories focused on the notion of culture as ideology.
Bourdieu focused on the culture of the ruling class and how it preserves their elite status.
Individuals imporve their social class position not only by economic wealth but by cultural capital too.

Cultural capital and competence, knowledge, langiage, tastes and lifestyles.

HABITUS is the distinction between good and bad habits.

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