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The Dominant Ideology Thesis

Nicholas Abercrombie and Bryan S. Turner
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 1978), pp. 149-170
DOI: 10.2307/589886
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/589886
Page Count: 22
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The Dominant Ideology Thesis
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Abstract

A good deal of research and theory construction in the sociology of knowledge relies on the 'dominant ideology thesis'. This thesis suggests that there is in most societies a set of beliefs which dominates all others and which, through its incorporation in the consciousness of subordinate classes, tends to inhibit the development of radical political dissent. In this article we propose a number of reinterpretations of this thesis which at present systematically ignores the effect of the dominant ideology on the dominant class. There is good evidence that the subordinate classes are not incorporated into the dominant ideology and that, by contrast, the dominant classes are deeply penetrated by and incorporated within the dominant belief system. In most societies the apparatus of transmission of the dominant ideology is not very efficient and, in any event, is typically directed at the dominant rather than the subordinate class. We conclude that there is no well marked dominant ideology in the later phases of capitalism. Thus, the dominant ideology has the function of maintaining the dominant class's control over property in feudalism and early capitalism. In late capitalism, however, the changing nature of the dominant class in terms of a partial divorce between ownership and control means that the dominant ideology ceases to be crucial for the coherence of the dominant class.

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