chapter  1
Theories of the Dominant Ideology
Pages 23

The dominant ideology thesis has its origins in the German Ideology. In order to illustrate these tendencies within recent Marxism, this chapter discusses the views of three Marxist writers of very different theoretical persuasions: Gramsci, Habermas and Althusser. The critical point for Gramsci is that despite the fact that there is a working-class consciousness at some level its incorporation within a dominant ideology tends to produce 'moral and political passivity'. The concept employed by Habermas that is of relevance to the arguments is that of legitimation. For example, Habermas talks of legitimation being achieved by steadily increasing the level of material rewards. In Althusser's account, ideology acts specifically as a condition of existence, differently in each mode of production. The mechanisms by which ideology is transmitted have to be powerful enough to overcome the contradictions within the structure of capitalist society.