chapter  2
24 Pages

Concepts of ideology

Ideology is a basic starting point for almost all contemporary cultural theory. Ideology refers to the basic ideas and assumptions that help shape a given culture, the preconceived notions and beliefs that structure a given society (as well as its individual members). Ideological beliefs are usually taken as naturally and inherently true by the people, groups, and institutions that hold them. As such, ideology is inherent in all cultural artifacts, or texts, but it is also something of a free-floating structure that pervades all aspects of culture. If culture can be said to consist of the material goods, products, and behaviors of any group of people, ideology is the invisible glue that binds those various objects and behaviors into a coherent and meaningful system of shared relatable experiences. Cultural artifacts always convey ideologies, whether they are consciously encoded into them by their producers or not, and whether their consumers are aware of them or not. Thus, one of the main goals of ideological analysis is to learn to recognize and be able to identify the various ideologies that cultural artifacts convey. And as complex amalgamations of sound and vision, film and television texts can and do convey ideologies in complex and multiple ways. Ideologies are expressed in the ways that stories are told (narrative design), how sets are constructed and lit, how roles are embodied by actors, and how lighting, sound, music, and camera work are deployed. The ideological analysis of a film or TV show therefore often begins with its formal properties, even as it might also encompass a consideration of its means of production (i.e. who made it, for what reasons, and within what sociohistorical and industrial contexts).