Ideology Critique: how to do one!

See how ideology is practiced.

Not always identifying political ideas or bias


Often I-C is to show how it WORKS upon an audience: how the images, language, graphics, typography pull in the punter.


Remember the ‘materialist’ (rather than the ideational) theory of Ideology: that Ideology is not only a system of ideas that imply or show a coherent line of thinking and picture of the world, BUT that IT IS PERSUASIVE.


It affects in getting us to believe the values embodied in the image/text. It has rhetorical force.

But ideology is not a group of ideas dumped en bloc onto an audience: it must be done slowly and carefully by the language and images appealing to the audience partly because they are familiar or have familiar meanings already.

The Power of Ideology works best when it draws you in slowly to seeing the picture of the world as the producer would wish you to (Hall’s preferred reading). It can do this by using ideas you share with the text/programme but put them into a set of relations (a narrative) not of your choosing but of theirs. 

But that you share most of the unit ideas or views constituting the ‘media text’ tends to lead to you going along with the whole story as it has been organised and told. It helps you to see how things hang together - gives you a version of a story that you might not have thought of. “See the world like this”: and because you agree with all the individual statements, you tend ‘inevitably’ to go along with the story told to you by the media – ‘of course, I see …it must hang together this way.’


Sun: ‘…Its natural…You must like doe eyed puppies, and here’s a picture of one’…and he did what to the puppy?…hang ‘im…cut his ears off…bah blah blah’ (add any ‘Sun-speak’ you care too)

Assumptions: doe eyes + puppy = both loved by all. We live in a ‘doe eyed puppy’ liking culture and this plus pretty picture pushes us into going aah!


Even puppy pictures are ideological: they engage us - they draw on our already constructed emotions and push them further etc. Yes, culture/socialisation ‘constructs’ our emotions (they are not natural), but media manipulates and extends them as well as circulating emotional-reactive images in mass society…to get us going. So the cycle of audience/media interaction suggested here is: culture – media – culture. So does media shape culture which then shape media and so on, OR, does culture shape media which then shapes culture and so on?



But ideology: getting us to go along with the story line crucially works through language.

So ideology is not always about political ideas, but can be found in all kinds of stories, texts, and images. Doing Ideological analysis is about identifying how values and beliefs are drawn together in images, or verbal  stories, or say, TV programmes AND how they persuade us to share to those beliefs and values. Thus there are at least. 2 major functions in ideological analysis.

1)     against/with the assumed social/political views of the audience.

2)     ‘The Now Show’: Car ad. Right v left wing narratives. Inndividualistic versus collective concerns.

3)     using an implied argument of the on the one hand this, on the other hand that…but pushing you in the right direction.  See ‘Taking a beating’. The equivocal nature of Guardian articles versus the ‘in-your-face’ style of the Sun wich often tells us what to think rather than negotiating with its readers.