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Reflections on Ideology: Lessons from Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski

Susen, S. (2014). Reflections on Ideology: Lessons from Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski. Thesis Eleven, 124(1), pp. 90-113. doi: 10.1177/0725513614552444


The main purpose of this article is to demonstrate the enduring relevance of the concept of ideology to contemporary sociological analysis. To this end, the article draws upon central arguments put forward by Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski in ‘La production de l’ide´ologie dominante’ [‘The Production of the Dominant Ideology’]. Yet, the important theoretical contributions made in this enquiry have been largely ignored by contemporary sociologists, even by those who specialize in the critical study of ideology. This article intends to fill this gap in the literature by illustrating that useful lessons can be learned from Bourdieu and Boltanski’s critical investigation, as it provides crucial insights into the principal characteristics and functions of ideologies, including the ways in which they develop and operate in advanced capitalist societies. The article is divided into two main parts: the first part examines various universal features of ideology; the second part aims to shed light on several particular features of dominant ideology. The paper concludes by arguing that the ‘end of ideology’ thesis, despite the fact that it raises valuable sociological questions, is ultimately untenable.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2014
Publisher Keywords: Boltanski, Bourdieu, critique, dominant ideology, ideology, ideology critique, social theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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