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Understanding Ideology

jeremy | Tuesday December 01, 2009

Categories: Key Concepts, Ideology, Understanding Media, Understanding Key Concepts


Ideology means a set of values, beliefs and ideas that guide our lives.

Literally the word means the ‘study of ideas’. It has become accepted as the set of values and beliefs that we believe to be true, and that have become part of our daily life. These are the natural agreed values, or common sense, that keep society running. One such belief is that we all need to work to earn money to live, and we agree to pay taxes to support the state that supports us. The ideology may be agreed by virtually everyone, but the means of carrying it out are certainly not agreed by everyone.

There are personal ideologies such as a religious belief, or a political belief. In Media Studies we are particularly interested in the dominant ideology. These are the beliefs, values and ideas that the majority of people in a society believe in.

The dominant ideology shifts and changes over time in tune with how society changes. The dominant ideology represents the values and beliefs of powerful groups such as the government, the law, the family and religion. In some societies, such as Iran, one ideology - religion - is the most powerful and dominant ideology. In communist societies the ideology of the state is dominant.

In western societies the government is elected by the people to support the dominant ideology concerning law and order, foreign policy, the collection of taxes and how public services should be run, etc. This does not mean that all groups of people have to agree with it, but the vast majority agree to go along with most of the codes and conventions of this society, some of which are derived from religious texts. The Ten Commandments form the basis of the moral values of western society.
Groups or individuals who feel there is a better way often challenge the dominant ideology.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union in 1990 has been partly attributed to the influence of American television which...

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