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Ideology: Structuring Identities in Contemporary Life

Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 2
Pages: 175
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Offering both an historical overview of the concept as well as questions about current social arrangements,Ideologyaims to move us beyond the "narcosis" of socialization and into the space of authentic citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0207-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-V)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. VI-VI)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Overt and Covert Power of Ideology
    (pp. 1-21)

    The elements that shape a person’s thinking about or acting on any particular experience are always, in part, a mystery. Everyday we make decisions about what to wear, what to do, and what forms of entertainment interest us; we make choices about friends and family and how to respond to them. Some of these decisions seem conscious and deliberate, others seem to be made below the level of conscious decision-making. Some involve us directly, others seem guided by social, political, or economic forces or by corporate profit motives well outside our immediate experience. The branding of our clothing and other...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Ideology: Definitions, Representation, and Contextualization in Postmodernist Society
    (pp. 22-51)

    Of all the terms used in the social sciences to help clarify social structure, social experience, and social theory, ideology is perhaps one of the most difficult to define. In a brief but profound manner in his bookKeywords, a work he calls “historical semantics” (that is, etymology), Raymond Williams both establishes a framework for the term “ideology” and reveals its complexity. The word, he says, “first appeared in English in 1796, as a direct translation of the new French wordidéologie, which had been proposed in that year by the rationalist philosopher Destutt de Tracy [1754–1836]” (Williams,1976:126). Tracy...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Socialization: Awakening or Narcotic?
    (pp. 52-68)

    Part of the task of understanding ideology is to comprehend how people become members of society, living their lives with a certain (or perhaps uncertain) sense of identity and seeing things from particular perspectives. This means understanding socialization. Given the complexities of modern, or indeed postmodern society, socialization is no longer—if it ever was—a simple, direct inculcation of social norms, values, and behaviours. The diversity of values within multi-cultural or multi-ethnic societies, as well as the diversity of signs, images, and representations that we encounter on a daily basis, means that it has become difficult to track the...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Politicizing, Depoliticizing, and the Creation of Advantage
    (pp. 69-88)

    Like the concepts of ideology and socialization, a political formation like identity politics, as bell hooks suggests (though it is more of a challenge than a suggestion), has to be placed within a larger, wider frame—within the contexts of people’s everyday lives. Ideologies work to politicize and depoliticize our social, economic, and political environments; thus, the “yearning that wells in the hearts and minds,” the “silencing,” and the “longing for the critical voice.”

    But in this case, too, the idea of politics, or of what is deemed political, has to be understood in a very different way than usual....

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Representation and Reproduction of Race, Gender, and Class
    (pp. 89-104)

    “The modern idea of class,” Jeremy Seabrook writes, “was born in Europe, became an obsession in Britain and was denied in the United States” (and, we might add, Canada). Today, he notes, the still-persistent “institutionalized social injustice … is discussed in terms of ‘inequality’ rather than of opposing social classes” (Seabrook, 2002: 10–11).

    In recent years, the concepts of gender and race have undergone similar shifts of meaning, moving away from biological determinism towards explanations based on social constructions. Within contemporary feminism, for instance, the dominant conceptualization of women’s social condition was, for some time, that all women were...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Ideology and the Privatization of Public Policy
    (pp. 105-123)

    The public/private configuration has been with us for centuries, in various guises, and remains with us now as a means of separating the concerns of everyday life from the supposedly larger concerns of governance and corporate affairs. The dichotomy, as ideology and reality, is everywhere, and it is everywhere full of contradictions. Family homes are the most obvious example of the private domain; the workplace is in the public domain. But as a public domain the factory, for instance, has always been seen as male, even when women entered into it as the economy demanded. The private domain, the home,...

  10. CHAPTER 7 A Struggle for Identity and Greater Citizen Space
    (pp. 124-139)

    The concept of ideology, once given definition and example, becomes a kind of enclosure, or determinant, of our lives. This enclosure is mediated, constructed, and maintained by a range of ideologically encumbered institutions and structures. Even the clothing that covers our bodies constitutes an enclosure driven by ideological contest and context. As Fatima Mernissi’s description of thehaik(Chapter 1) reveals, the fabric of our clothing is not just material; it has varied and problematic cultural and ideological dimensions, which some would call “baggage.” Indeed, clothing in the broadest sense represents who we are; it helps mould our identities. We...

  11. Glossary
    (pp. 140-154)
  12. References
    (pp. 155-165)
  13. Index
    (pp. 166-178)