Ideology is one of the hardest working concepts in political and social theory. The dozens of meanings that have been attached to ideology, as well as all of the functions that have been ascribed to ideology’s real-world existence, have at times produced a burden where ideology must explain so much that it ends up explaining very little. A closer inspection of ideological analysis reveals that its various manifestations are in fact organized according to just a few key problematics: the constitution of relations (inside/outside, visible/ non-visible, imaginable/non-imaginable, individual/whole); critical thought (what is ‘reality’ or ‘truth’? What type of critique is required to demystify ingrained beliefs and habits?); and, finally, action (why is it that people seem to act against their interests? How should we organize politically?). Dialectics’ com mitment to critique and transformation offers them as another set of coordinates that can be used to evaluate different models of ideology. Alterna - tively, critique and transformation can be used to deepen our understanding of the three problematics listed above. This chapter addresses some of the most influential models of ideology and how they remain contested. Examples include ideology as false consciousness (but is the false something real or imagined?); ideology as the ideas that facilitate political and social dominance by certain groups (but to what extent do the dominant and dominated alike participate in these ideas?); and ideology as the spontaneous structuring of everyday life and subjectivity (is there such a thing anymore as a space outside of ideology?). I am less concerned with testing these versions of ideology against each other to find the ‘best’ one than with determining how a number of different models are appropriate for making sense of phenomena today. I also want to show how ideology critique remains central to the work
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enact the same logical moves that many practitioners of ideological analysis rely on. Throughout the chapter I will demonstrate the dialectical qualities of ideology and the need for dialectics to make sense of and resist ideology in the world.