Althusser's Theory Of Ideology

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"Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses " Or “Theory of Ideology” is an essay by the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. First published in 1970, it advances Althusser's theory of ideology. Where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels posited a thinly-sketched theory of ideology as false consciousness, Althusser draws upon the works of later theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Siegmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to proffer a more elaborate redefinition of the theory. While much of Althusser's work has fallen out of favour in the decades since it was written, his theory of ideology remains influential. Ideology is the ‘lived’ relation between men and their world, or a reflected form of this unconscious relation, for instance a ‘philosophy’,…show more content…
His thesis works from Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony. Originally, hegemony “referred to the way that one nation could exert ideological and social, rather than military or coercive, power over another”. Today, in cultural theory, the term describes the dynamic by “which a dominant class wins the willing consent of the subordinate class to the system that ensures their subordination” . Consent is not static, but must be “won and rewon” , for courageous individuals may rebel and advocate alternative or oppositional ideologies, rather than hegemonic ones. Althusser’s theory of ideology accounts for the manner in which ruling, or hegemonic, discourses and institutions perpetuate the necessary consent for their…show more content…
Althusser states that there are no practices “except by and in an ideology”. Practices of particular powerful social institutions reproduce ideology in an ever-changing dynamic process. Individuals, who are born as “subjects” into the realm of some form of ideology, are inevitably called to participate in practices of particular dominant institutional ideologies. Althusser describes this process systematically, as a circular relationship. Through a “conceptual device or dispositif,” an individual believes himself a subject endowed with a consciousness in which he freely forms or freely recognizes ideas in which he believes. The individual believes his ideas must be inserted into actions, or ought to exist in his actions, and these are inserted into practices governed by the rituals of particular ISAs. The rituals stem from the ideology of the ISAs, which are the origin of the recognized or formed beliefs of the
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