Ideology and Ideologies


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Nicole Dane
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Ideology: Thinking Determines Actions "It is what men think that determines how they act" - John Stuart Mill "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else" - John Maynard Keynes
Ideologies: In Politics - Ideas and ideologies structure political understanding, set goals, shape political systems, and act as a form of social cement - Ideologies aim to understand, interpret, explain, and evaluate the world - They unify groups or classes around a set of beliefs and values - Ideologies are systems of ideas with their own histories
Ideology: Origin and Development - For Destutt de Tracy (1795), ideology is the science of ideas: the study of the origin of our ideas and their laws of operation - The aim is to improve rationality of public discourse in the name of progress and truth
Ideology: Origin and Development (French Revolution - 1789) - Destutt de Tracy (1795): science of ideas - Early 1800s: Napoleon supports a return to an alliance with the Catholic Church and tradition - Ideology becomes a dirty word
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Critical Perspective on Ideology (1846) - The ruling ideas of every age are the ideas of the ruling class - Ruling illusions that conceal exploitative social relations and provides a rationale for class oppression - False consciousness: makes the status quo seem natural
Ideology: A Value-Neutral Definition - A set of ideas that provides the basis for organized political action, whether aimed at preserving, modifying, or overthrowing the existing system of power - Any ideology has three parts 1) A worldview of the existing order 2) A vision of the future good society 3) An explanation of how political change can and should happen - Ideologies describe what is, explain why it is, propose what should be, and provide a program of action
Ideologies: Classical and New - Classical ideologies include liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and fascism - New ideologies include feminism, ecologism, religious fundamentalism, and multiculturalism - Classical ideologies emphasize economics, interests, and social class; new ideologies stress culture, identity, and individual self-definition
Ideologies: Left and Right - Ideologies are often placed on a scale going from left to right, referring to three types of disagreement Values: Left (liberty, equality, community) Right (order, authority, hierarchy) Human Nature: Left (optimism, social progress) Right (pessimism, skepticism about change) State Intervention: Left (economic regulation) Right (deregulated markets)
Ideologies: Multiple Dimensions - Economic: Left and right - Social: Progressive and conservative - Constitutional (a third dimension in Canada): a reformist and status quo
How Do You Fit in the Ideological Landscape - Economic: state regulation of the economy, trade, redistributive taxation, labour relations, healthcare, childcare - Social: religion and politics, abortion, immigration and multiculturalism, law and order, drugs, assisted death - Government Institutions: Quebec, First Nations, Monarchy, Senate, French and English on the Supreme Court - Environmental: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon pricing, pipelines
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