What is Ideology? Marxist Analyses of Culture

here, here, here, and here

Three Definitions of Ideology (Raymond Williams):

1. As a system of beliefs characteristic of a particular class or group;

2. As a system of illusory beliefs or false ideas (false consciousness);

3. As the general process of producing meanings and ideas.











Roland Barthes: Connotators form "the rhetoric of my ideology"

United States of America Scott 1082: "Labor Day," 1956
Stamp design © 1956, United States Postal Service








Marx: Base and Superstructure









BASE: a combination of "forces of production" and "relations of production"








"Forces of production": raw materials, tools, technology, workers and their skills, etc.

Working in a toy factory in China... Workers, skills, tools, technologies, and raw materials.











"Relations of production": class relations of those engaged in production

Scene from the movie Ben Hur, starring Charleton Heston.

Master-Slave Relations; Feudalism: Lord-Peasant/Aristocracy-Serfs.














Capitalism: Bourgeois-Proletariat














SUPERSTRUCTURE: the institutions arising from the mode of production, including political, legal, educational, and cultural institutions










“The class which has the means of material production at its disposal consequently also controls the means of mental production so that the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are on the whole subject to it,” Marx and Engels, "The Ruling Class and the Ruling Ideas"










Central Premise of Marxist Approach to Culture: Cultural texts and practices must be analyzed in relation to the historical conditions of their production.

Still from Film "Child Labour" (1913)







Why do we use banks?










Why do we consent to things as they are?

Hegemony (Antonio Gramsci):

The social concept describing a society in which subordinate groups and classes appear to support and subscribe to the values, ideals, objectives, cultural, economic,and political meanings which bind them to and incorporate them into the prevailing structures of power.









We come to take the values, ideas, and beliefs of the ruling class as our own, come to see them as "common-sense," "natural," and "normal," the way things are and the way they ought to be.













Anti-Sweatshop activist

Hegemony implies a high degree of consensus, but this is not consensus without conflict.








Hegemony is maintained by dominant groups negotiation with and making concessions to subordinate groups.






















Interpellation (Louis Althusser):

Ideological "hailing" -- the times when we are invited to and do identify with or see ourselves in the dominant order. The manner in which we are addressed by ideology, are produced as subjects of ideology.











Bob Marley Box-Set "Songs of Freedom" click here and here

The paradoxical negotiations of cultural hegemony.

Stuart Hall:

"Meaning is a social production, a practice.The world has to be made to mean"








Charlie Chaplin "Modern Times"

click here








Capitalism Hits the Fan, Richard Wolff


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