Lecture 13: Ideology
Monday, October 29, 2012
What ideology are you?
Check out this link: http://www.politicalcompass.org/
and take their test at http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Why study Ideologies?
All concepts in political science are "essentially contested concepts " : a notion around which
there will never be agreement
- Ideology is an essentially contested concept
- Ideology results in all other concepts being essentially contested concepts
Answers Questions about "us":
- How do I make sense of my world?
Order, place, identity
- What are the bases of my political ideas?
Scientific, religious, etc.?
o How valid are my ideas?
o How comprehensive are my ideas?
Global, universal, timeless?
o How coherent are my ideas?
Connect, link, idea-reality
Two questions that politics is forever trying to answer:
o What is to be done? ( Lenin) = agency [us?]
What are we to do?
o What are the limits of the possible? (Braudel) = structures [ours?]
o Each ideology gives us "answers" or "maps" to these questions
It tells us what is to be done
Political ideas are living things
o 1) Rooted in particular historical circumstances : grow out of events, problems, crises of
French Revolution, Colonialism, 9/11
o 2) Change along with changing historical circumstances
Conservatives of 1970s vs. 1990s
They were more socialist in the past
o 3) Often themselves designed to help change historical circumstances
Marxism, Reform party, China's Modernizations
What’s an Ideology?
So what is an 'ideology"
o Political doxa: organized political opinions
o World view: the world as it is & as it should be
o Abstractons: do not really exist
Onomasiological: defining or understanding a concept or idea by relating it to another Theory: Greek theoria: act of looking at the human world reflectively
Epistemology: the study of knowledge
o Episteme: "knowledge"
o What can we know?
o How can we know what we know?
Ontology: study of "beings"
o What categories or beings tell us about the world?
What is an "ideology"
Political doxa — organized political opinions
World-view: the world as it is & as it should be
o Abstractions — do not really exist
o 1. Social belief held by many people and passed on from generation to generation
o 2. Mixture of "facts" (what is true) and "morals" (right & wrong behaviour & thought)
o 3. Simplification
o 4. Organized system of beliefs
o 1. Explanation: why political, social, economic conditions are what they are.
o 2. Evaluation: How to evaluate the conditions and events in the world
o 3. Orientation: Tell us who we are & give us a sense of identity
o 4. Political Programme: Tell us what to do
History of "Ideology"
Continental European concept
Dark Ages: who had the knowledge & who gave it back to us?
Destutt de Tracy
o Antoine Destutt de Tracy:
Invents the word "ideology" in 1796
French Revolution in 1790s
Violent overthrow of the monarchy and aristocratic social structure
Volatile birth site of what came to be known as liberalism, conservatism, socialism,
Flood of new ideas about how we should live
Motivated by scholarship, science, and politics
Believed some ideas were true, some were false
This fact should be supported by science to achieve political ends
Free people from the powers of kings and the Church
o "Ideologie": a systematic study of the sources and origins of ideas
Basis: belief that people are born with neither knowledge nor ideas -- a blank slate
*John Locke’s tabula rasa+
If ideas are the result of experience, it must be possible to discover their sources,
and explain why different people have different ideas ['racists/sexists are created, not
o Goal: to explain why people had the ideas -- the ideology --they had o Why?
To reform and improve society
Get rid of oppressive powers
o People could be taught the rig