Ideology within Sociology and Philosophy

  • H. M. Drucker


Sociological writing on ideology is cursed by a recurring night-mare. Repeatedly sociologists are faced with their own failure to make their works free of ideology. Clifford Geertz sums up this aspect of sociological writing when he conjugates a new irregular verb in the English language: ‘I have a social philosophy; you have opinions; he has an ideology.’1 What is so nightmarish about this conjugation is that it reports its own failure. Sociology finds the concept of ideology useful almost to the point of its being indispensable, and yet its concepts of ideology are never entirely free of an unprofessional element of condemnation: ‘I have a social philosophy, you have a mere ideology.’


Political Ideology Opinion Poll Social Philosophy Conflict Theory Depth Interview 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    C. Geertz, ‘Ideology as a Cultural System’, in D. Apter, Ideology and Discontent (New York, 1964) p. 47.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p. 48.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia. The immediate cause of his taking this position would seem to be his reaction against Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness; see Lichtheim, The Concept of Ideology, p. 32.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    E. Shils, ‘The Concept and Function of Ideology’, in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York, 1968) vol. VII, p. 74.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Plamenatz, Ideology, pp. 137–42.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    T. Geiger, On Social Order and Mass Society (Chicago, 1969) p. 143 (posthumously published).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    G. Bergmann, ‘Ideology’, Ethics, LXI (1951) 205–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. P. Corbett, Ideologies (London, 1965).Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    D. Emmet, Rules, Roles and Relations (New York, 1966)Google Scholar
  10. C. W. Taylor, ‘Neutrality in Social Science’, in P. Laslett and W. G. Runciman, Philosophy, Politics and Society, 3rd series (Oxford, 1967) pp. 25–7Google Scholar
  11. A. MacIntyre, Against the Self-Images of the Age (London, 1971) chap. 22.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    D. Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York, 1961) esp. ‘An Epilogue’, pp. 393–404;Google Scholar
  13. R. E. Lane, ‘The Decline of Politics and Ideology in a Knowledgeable Society’, American Sociological Review, XXXI, 5 (1966) 649–62, esp. p. 657.Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    See N. Chomsky, ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’, in American Power and the New Mandarins (Harmondsworth, 1969) pp. 272–4.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    M. Williams, ‘Up the Polls’, New Society, 9 July 1970, pp. 61–2.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    R. E. Lane, Political Ideology: Why the American Common Man Believes What He Does (London, 1962).Google Scholar
  17. 13.
    Ibid., p. 3.Google Scholar
  18. 14.
    See T. Parsons, ‘Authority, Legitimation and Political Action in Structure and Process in Modern Society’, cited in D. Bell, ‘Ideology and Soviet Politics’, Slavic Review XXIV, 1 (Mar 1965) 596. See also C. J. Friedrich, ‘Ideology in Politics: A Theoretical Comment’, ibid., p. 612: ‘… it has become customary to refer to such action-oriented, programmatic congeries of ideas as ideologies …’; and see A. Hacker, ‘Sociology and Ideology’Google Scholar
  19. N. J. Demerath and R. A. Peterson, System, Change and Conflict (London, 1967) pp. 481–98.Google Scholar
  20. 15.
    Shils, ‘The Concept and Function of Ideology’, p. 74; and ‘Ideology and Civility: On the Politics of the Intellectual’, Sewanee Review, LXVI (1958) 450–80.Google Scholar
  21. 16.
    Shils, ‘The Concept and Function of Ideology’, p. 68.Google Scholar
  22. 17.
    R. K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (London, 1957) p. 51 (emphasis added).Google Scholar
  23. 18.
  24. 19.
    In part this would also require us to discover if they conceive of their interests as those of a person, a family, a class or a nation. It is not obvious that most people keep these things straight.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© H. M. Drucker 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. Drucker
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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