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Posted: January 7th, 2021

Research of Gerald Macaulay’s Liberalism

This week essay based on Gerald Macaulay, last week’s articles Essay Assignment November 4th Instructions, Guidelines Topics Opinion based on research (secondary) Extension of a week to November 1 lath for any reason 1. What are ideologies 2. Key Feature of Ideologies 3. What Is “special” about Ideologies? 4. What is the history of the concept? 5. Positive vs.. Negative conception of ideology 6.
Complications of studying them What are ideologies? Competing conceptual frameworks Clusters/composites of political beliefs, values and ideas a pattern of social, political, economic, technological and philosophical beliefs that help us organize the world around us. ” P. X Grounded in beliefs about human nature and social possibility (what is, and what could be) What do Ideologies do?
Explain or Inform – what Is going on? Judge-what should I think about this? Guide political actions- what should do about this? Inform social relations-Who are my allies? My enemies? What Is my relationship to other In this? Etc. Key Features of ideologies Historically contingent-constantly changing/shifting Changes In central concepts (meanings) and also In relation of concepts to other concepts (e. G. Allegations of freedom to equality) Include “core” and “adjacent” concepts Both rational and emotional Normative and prescriptive In various affinities/alliances with each other (historically shifting) Include a spectrum of views Frequently claim to be true, to be non-ideological 1 OFF Differentiating ideologies from political theories/philosophies 1) Typicality 2) Influence 3) Conceptual Creativity 4) Communicability History of Ideologies Link to democracy, to concern with public opinion ) As a scientific term of study.

Ideologies are a pattern of social, political, economic, technological and philosophical beliefs that help us organize the world around us. They are clusters or composites of political beliefs, values, and ideas that inform our understanding of what is, what could be, and what ought to be. Ideologies are grounded in beliefs about human nature and social possibility, and they play a significant role in shaping our views of the world and informing political action.

Key Features of Ideologies

Ideologies are historically contingent, constantly changing and shifting. Changes occur not only in the central concepts but also in the relations of concepts to each other. For example, the meaning of freedom has shifted over time from negative liberty to positive liberty. Ideologies include both “core” and “adjacent” concepts and are both rational and emotional. They are normative and prescriptive and have various affinities or alliances with each other that are historically shifting. Ideologies claim to be true and non-ideological, yet they exist on a spectrum of views.

Differentiating ideologies from political theories and philosophies can be challenging. However, four factors can help distinguish ideologies from political theories and philosophies: typicality, influence, conceptual creativity, and communicability. Ideologies are more typical in that they are more widely shared and serve as the basis for political movements. They have greater influence on political outcomes and shape public opinion. Ideologies are more conceptually creative in that they seek to explain the world and propose solutions to social and political problems. Finally, ideologies are more communicable because they are designed to be easily understood and spread widely.

What do Ideologies do?

Ideologies serve various functions, including explaining or informing individuals about what is happening, helping individuals judge what they should think about a situation, guiding political actions, and informing social relations by helping individuals identify allies and enemies. Ideologies provide a framework for individuals to make sense of the world around them and to organize their political and social beliefs. They can help individuals develop a sense of identity, which in turn can affect their political and social behavior.

History of Ideologies

Ideologies have a long history that dates back to the Enlightenment era and the emergence of liberal thought. Ideologies are linked to democracy and the concern with public opinion. As societies became more complex, so too did the ideologies that developed to make sense of them. Today, there are many competing ideologies, each with its own set of beliefs and values.

Ideologies have also been studied scientifically. The scientific study of ideologies began in the early 20th century with the work of scholars such as Karl Mannheim, who sought to understand the role of ideologies in shaping social and political behavior. Mannheim argued that ideologies are not static but are instead constantly changing and evolving. Other scholars, such as Louis Althusser, argued that ideologies are not just sets of beliefs but are also material practices that shape social and political relations.

Positive vs. Negative Conceptions of Ideology

The concept of ideology has been subject to debate and criticism. Some scholars view ideology positively, arguing that it serves a useful purpose by providing individuals with a framework for making sense of the world. Others view ideology negatively, arguing that it is a tool of oppression that serves the interests of dominant groups.

Critics of ideology argue that it serves to legitimize the existing social order by presenting it as natural and inevitable. Ideologies can also be used to justify oppression by portraying it as necessary for the common good. Critics argue that ideologies can be used to manipulate individuals and to limit their freedom by restricting the range of beliefs and values that are considered acceptable.

Complications of Studying Ideologies

Studying ideologies is not without its complications. One issue is the diversity of ideologies and the challenge of categorizing them. Ideologies exist on a spectrum of views, and

Studying ideologies is not without its complications. One issue is the diversity of ideologies and the challenge of categorizing them. Ideologies exist on a spectrum of views, and attempting to neatly classify them into distinct categories can be difficult. Additionally, ideologies are often complex, with clusters of political beliefs, values, and ideas that do not necessarily fit into a neat conceptual framework.

Another complication is that ideologies are historically contingent and constantly changing. The meaning of central concepts can shift over time, as can the relation of concepts to other concepts. For example, the definition of freedom has changed over time, from the freedom to do as one pleases to the freedom to do what is best for the community. Similarly, the concept of equality has shifted from equality of opportunity to equality of outcomes.

Furthermore, ideologies are both rational and emotional, normative and prescriptive. They include “core” and “adjacent” concepts that are frequently in various affinities and alliances with each other, which shift over time. Additionally, ideologies frequently claim to be true and non-ideological, which can create further complications for researchers trying to understand them.

Differentiating ideologies from political theories or philosophies is another complication. While they share some similarities, ideologies are more typical in terms of their beliefs and values, have a greater influence on politics, exhibit greater conceptual creativity, and are more communicable than political theories or philosophies.

Despite these complications, the study of ideologies remains an important field of inquiry. Understanding the beliefs and values that underlie political movements can provide insight into the motivations and actions of political actors. Additionally, the historical development of ideologies can shed light on the evolution of political thought and the ways in which political discourse and action have changed over time.

In conclusion, ideologies are clusters of political beliefs, values, and ideas that help us organize the world around us. They are historically contingent, both rational and emotional, and normative and prescriptive. Attempting to categorize them can be difficult, and their meanings and relations to other concepts can shift over time. Despite these complications, studying ideologies remains an important field of inquiry for understanding political thought and action.


Gerring, J. (2018). Ideology: A definitional analysis. Political Research Quarterly, 71(1), 94-111.

Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. J. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological bulletin, 129(3), 339.

Lukes, S. (1974). Power: A radical view. London: Macmillan.

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