“Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

1 January 2017

I want to discuss two of his main ideas regarding his theory of Ideology. His first approach attempts to redefine ideology in structural teams. “Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” In other words it isn’t the real circumstances themselves that the individuals attempt to avoid, but rather their “affiliation” to these situations. His second statement is more debatable. Ideology has a material existence” Ideas, he claim, are not concepts that simply represent some form of spiritual or non-materialistic reality, but are somewhat a direct result of the structures of the materialistic reality itself. From these two theses Althusser describes that the imaginary relations that embrace ideology function in a material way. He uses religion as an example through their rituals with praying, confession, political protests that function in material reality.

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The theory rest on the idea that what matters is the actions of “the subjects” rather than any forms of individual beliefs. Basically, it doesn’t matter what anybody believes, as long as they act according to that “religion” or ideology. Althusser claims it’s not viable to be “outside of ideology”. This is because we “ the subjects” from the moment of our birth, we are already members of the “material practices” of ideology.

The imaginary consciousness which ideology bring on gives us a representation of the way individuals relate to their “real conditions of existence” Ideologies interpellate people into defined subject positions through the ISA. The effect of this materialistic character of ideology is that “subjects” internalize it, and as a result they carry out the prescribed “practices” including work, production, religion on their own, without the need for regulation.

The “subjects” thus are far less likely to oppose their status in life since they accept the “practices” arranged by ideology as something they “freely” chose when they accepted the ideology. Ideology, it seem is nothing more than an illusion to the human mind. Althusser’s theories on ideology are very similar to the way Derrida’s presented his ideas with language. In the similar way an individual cannot avoid language, one cannot, according to Althusser, avoid ideology. Literature and literary studies as a result therefore, cannot be escape from ideology.

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