Conceptions of ideology exhibit an awesome diversity. From an exegesis of nine different conceptions, this chapter argues that it is the historical materialist view of ideology that reflects its specificity as a critical concept. From exegesis, the chapter moves to diagnosis, using the critical idea that it is the systematic concealment of social contradictions that defines the ideological disease. Thus, the positivist hard systems approach is found to suffer from the ideology of economic individualism. The structuralist hard systems approach suffers from the ideology of sociological unitarism. The soft systems approach suffers from the ideology of naturalism, thereby laying itself open, by default, to ideological penetration, especially of the sociological unitarist type. In programmatic terms, this unmasking of ideologies in the interest of enlightenment is one of the necessary functions for the liberation of systems theory and practice. As with the case of power (Chapter 7), this chapter seeks to develop a penetrative understanding of how the mystified “truths” in ideological pretensions contain hidden meanings that have the critical potential for the empowerment of human and social systems.
KeywordsCritical Theory External Reality Human Practice Contingent View Viable System Model
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