Making sense of Ideology…

My Version- the not no frills but less frills version.

Media theory has thought about how much the content of media has helped to getting an easy view of the world that everyone agrees on. However, how do all the things represented in media bring about a particular way of seeing the world? Is there a simple set of values and beliefs that explain media representations in the world, or is it far more complex? Does media make people thing about lifes problems and solutions in a certain way? Does media make clear appropriate ways of thinking and acting? Does media always act bias and stereotypical when covering events? Are meanings constructed through things such as the news? Do people involved in media act as one group carrying and dishing out ideas?

These types of questions link to ideology where we study the nature and origion of ideas and the beliefs that guide people. Media theory looks at how media representation is effecting ideology, looking at how the media represent the opposites of men/women, gay/straight, rich/poor etc and whose interests are involved with these views.

There are break downs in communication when someone doesnt understand what they have seen or heard in the media. People interpret the media differently and can ritely think what ever they want, however this freedom of thought is constrained by culture and society. Factors stopping people thinking what ever they want are things such as history, tradition, language and ways of life. Media  is always trying to make meaning. Structured arguements about meanings in media have led to new ways of forming ideas about the ideological power of the media, particularly in the event of “discourse”, and debates about how to analyse media.

DISCOURSE: Speak or write authoritatively about a topic.

Destutt De Tracy believed ideology is the step by step study or science of ideas. However there is great confusion about the term.

The idea that it is negative: Many think of ideology as “a system of wrong, false or distorted beliefs associated with our social/political opponents”. When people think their opponents are wrong purely becasue your against them. Some use ideology as a term of abuse, one that describes dangerous threatening views. Others think ideology is when someone is strongly attatched to a bias idea and that is ideologies where removed people would see the reality of the situation.

The more neutral view: Ideology being a system of though or belief related to things happening socially or politically. A term related to “isms”- materialism, capitalism, Thatcherism etc.

McLennan believed that to make an idea or belief ideological lots of people had to agree on them. Ideology is concerned with power between people as some have the power to impose views upon others such as presidents to their country however some don’t have this power. Its the “important” people of the world that group together and say things that don’t make a true depiction of the world.

Marx then went on to say that ideology is false conciousness where we don’t know the truth. Because of their beliefs and values working class people don’t know the truth about the way they live. This was apparent during capitalism where advertisment created false needs to divert people from seeing the bad points about capitalism.

CAPITALISM: an economic system where trade and industy are controlled by private owners for profit.

Mrax believed that ideology is produced by the dominant class, the middle class, and passed on to the other classes through media giving everyone a false picture of the world. However it’s not just class that put people in their position in the world, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, race and nationality all play this role too.

Ideological State Apparatus


  • Marxist thinker
  • leader of communist party of Italy
  • concept of cultural hegemony- political leadership of the working class


  • Marxist philosopher
  • member- French communist party
  • structural Marxist

Both of these men argue that things that give out ideology are the media, the church and the education system however they all operate in their own way. Althusser was interested in how the ruling class rules and how the dominant ideology makes peoples thoughts about the world.

Representations of the imaginary relationship of individuals with the real conditions of the their existence

 Basically how people think they live Vs. how they actually live. Althusser argued that media, schools and churches are responsible for the way in which men and women take part in the world. Althusser didn’t belive ideology was false but more of a word to describe peoples “lived experience”.

Repressive state appatatus such as the police and the army who use force to maintain power still rely on the ideological state apparatus to gain the long term support of the ruling class. Interpellation describes the way in which individuals are exposed to the forces of ideological state apparatus from a young age in the form of family telling them how they should act, behave and think. As we consume media we become more and more interpellated.

Most people see the media as entertainment or information but what it is really trying to do is create a whole new world for comsumers of media to understand and to ensure they do not feel the need to try and understand the real world. This made up world needs to be discrete with the fact that it is made up with the use of effective promotion. Althussers theory of ideology then became out of fashion as it was so hard to put into practise and Gramsci.s concept of hegemony became a way to think about ideology in the media.  Gramsci belived idoelogy is not ruled by the dominat class but also by texts and their readers which goes against the idea that media messages are formed and trasmitted through classes.

There are many different approaches to media theory and explaining ideology. On the one hand we have people not having the chance to be exposed to reality, about whether the media are telling the truth or giving an accurate reflection of current events. However there is then the media that don’t aim to show reality such as cartoons but while they are thought to be imaginative and escape from reality they often adress what is going on in the “real” world in an imaginative way.

Some people pick and choose what they want to be real and what they don’t, there are suggestions that no representation of reality can ever be real. Representation should be the process of constructing reality. In reality, representation is now our reality unless we find a way to see what is actually real.


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