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Ch 1 Canada's Dominant Ideology.doc

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Sociology 2239
Alissa Mazar

- Canadas Dominant Ideology- Ch 1. Allahar & Cote - social reality is always viewed through filters called ideologies and represent the accumulated baggage of knowledge and experience everyone brings to a social encounter - ideologies mediate between the observer and the thing being observed- nobody is free of or above ideology - ideologies are of many types and contain both psychological and sociological elements - loyalty relates to the psychological need for belonging that all humans feel as well as to the social demands and constraints of group membership and identification - What are Ideologies? - every ideology has several dimensions - first of these is the cognitive dimension- which is the most important to an understanding of what ideologies are and how they function - the cognitive dimension refers to the complex mix of knowledge and belief in all ideologies - it is complex because while knowledge is verifiable using logic and the scientific method, beliefs are not - similarly, to understand the separation of knowledge and belief we can look at the political ideology of patriotism during war - the Gulf War highlights many myths about the United States: the myth that all citizens of the US are created equal and enjoy equal freedoms; the myth that the US is the worlds leading defender of democracy; the myth that its involvement in the war was not motivated by economic and political self-interest - furthermore, what the myths do not say is that, before it invaded Kuwait, the US had trained, armed and supported Iraq in its war against Iran for 8 years; that Iraqs oil is vital to American prosperity and industry; that Kuwait was not, and has never been, a democratic state; and that the US has a history of installing and supporting dictators around the world - but the average US citizen does not see these facts as revelant; nor are they ever talked about in the media, which encourages citizens to believe the myths of their country - a Canadian example of this separation between knowledge and belief or myth is the conquest of the Native peoples - they were portrayed as the red men who were godless, sly, uncultured savages, and that they attacked and scalped innocent settlers without reason- which is myth and legend - these are politically manufactured images that serve the purposes of those who benefitted from the conquest and the pillage of the Natives, and many of these images remain with us today - that is why, in any armed conflicts btw the 2 groups, if the settlers won a battle the history books recorded it as a glorious victory, but when the Indians were triumphant, it was deemed a bloody massacre - the second characteristic of ideology is its appeal to emotion and sentiment - those who adhere to ideologies are often blindly passionate and emotional about their beliefs, and their actions can appear irrational and capricious to non-adherents - i.e. passions of national identity over war, pride for country during Olympic games - a third characteristic of ideologies is the fact that they embody value judgements - they seek either to endorse or to challenge an existing system of social relationships and institutions - when we refer to Canadas economic system as one of free enterprise - ideologies also usually imply a call to action- being a feminist means practicing gender equality and promoting it wherever possible, while combating sexism - one can speak of conservative ideologies, which seek to maintain the status quo - radical ideologies attempt to overturn the status quo - reformist ideologies propose small-scale changes within the existing system - lastly, all ideologies have what is called a societal base - they are rooted in social groups and serve their interest - it is possibly to specify various groups in society- women, blacks, industrialists, labour unions, and so on- identify what their principal interests are and discover the ideologies associated with them - we might say that ideologies are systems of emotionally charged beliefs and ideas that mediate between individuals and groups, on the one hand, and social reality on the other - in the process they magnify certain aspects of that reality and stress to the observer those things that reaffirm the observers beliefs and ideas - but ideologies are mask or minimize those negative aspects of social reality that the observer is reluctant to acknowledge - to the extent that social inequalities are even acknowledged at all, they are cast as non-systemic, as aberrations, or as the failures of the individual - Ideology, Inequality, and Order - Canada is a country where white, male, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, wealthy, middle-aged, and older heterosexuals hold power in the leading institutions (and are generally seen to do so legitimately for historical reasons) - these people draft the laws on behalf of the wider society, and, as a consequence, they are most responsible for shaping the ways the average citizen perceives his or her society - a key strategy employed to defuse potential conflict is the attempt to explain away social inequality as a naturally occurring phenomenon - there is no such thing as natural inequality- that is an oxymoron - only in society are evaluations made that hold that it is better to be white than black, better to be male than female, and so on - these social evaluations are at the base of all social inequalities - it masks the fact that certain privileges accrue to those with power, who are able to deflect public attention from themselves by promoting the erroneous idea that social inequalities are naturally conditioned - since nature has no consciousness, motives, or intentions, they make the disadvantaged feel like they really have no one to blame for their predicament - blacks may be seen to be disproportionately involved in crime, but the class explanation might well be far more compelling - the variables of gender and age could easily be substituted for race here - race and gender have recently been high on the political agenda (those age has not) and they have tended to overshadow class - our argument, though, is that (a) class inequality is fundamental, and (b)
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