Ideological Criticism ComS 169—Television Criticism March 8, 2006
So what’s this ideology stuff anyway…? • Non-Critical definitions: • systems of belief or thoughts • the study of the science of ideas • Critical Definitions • Jacques Ellul: “any set of ideas accepted by individuals or peoples, without attention to their origins or values.” • John Thompson: “the study of the ways in which meaning serves to sustain or alter relations of domination”
Three processes by which ideology operates…. • Legitimation--domination operates and is accomplished more easily when those you are dominating think it is natural or necessary (Example: Law and Order) • Dissumulation--the representation of sectional or individual interests as universal (CNBC) • Reification--a world without history, inhibiting the recognition of the mutable, historical character of human society
Marxism and ideological studies • Key is understanding the nature of your connection to actual historical forces, recognizing the relationship between the owners of the means of production and those of us who sell our labor • Most workers labor under false consciousness, not understanding that their interests are best served when they oppose the owners
Hegemony and ideology • Hegemony is the way in which one ideology comes to dominate others; it is a form of social control, a means of symbolic coercion… • Granting that any culture features multiple ideologies, hegemony looks at the process of contestation….how does one ideology come to dominate the others? • Resistance to hegemony is also important
Foss on ideological criticism • The primary goal of the ideological critic is to discover and make clear the dominant ideology or ideologies embedded in an artifact and the ideologies that are being muted in it. • The ultimate aim of an ideological critic is the emancipation of human potential that is thwarted by existing ideologies.
Interesting ideological questions • What is the ideological function of shows like COPS, Dragnet, Law and Order:SVU, CSI and CSI Miami? • What is different about The Shield? • Is there an issue of ideology operating in shows like Joe Millionaire or American Idol? • Are there issues of resistance in those two shows?