Full Text


Christoph Henning

Subject Philosophy
Sociology » Sociology of Knowledge

Key-Topics ideology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


An ideology is a system of shared beliefs that is relevant for social action, integration, and social stability, though it is not necessarily true. Ideologies are very important for sociology: if there was no ideology, we would not need sociology. Because people's opinions of how society works differ from how society actually works, a science of society is necessary in the first place. It is not necessary for society to function that people have true beliefs about society. Rather, every social group holds its own beliefs to be true. If one group of people believes another group of people's set of beliefs to be false, they will call this belief system an ideology. Implicit in this denunciation is the claim of the first group to possess a more accurate theory of society. But such claims have become rare nowadays – at least, the term ideology is hardly used any more. After the cultural turn, this term lost its former prominence, for a simple reason: today, the claim to possess the one and only “true” theory of society is highly discredited. It was replaced by postmodernist pluralism. Here you can only investigate different discourses, without claiming that they are false. All of them are part of a certain culture, whether we like them or not. Nevertheless, in current public discourse there are many sentiments that could very well be called ideological from a sociological point of view. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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