How Far Can It Be Argued That Popular Culture Is Ideological: a Discussion in Relation to Feminism

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The Marxist concept of ideology is used to express the way in which the dominant group in a society controls the norms and values of that society at the level of ideas. As they own and direct the production of popular cultural products the dominant group are able to present their ideas as both normal and natural and `so mystify the `real' conditions of existence' (Hall.1992.p348). In this way the group holding power exercises maximum control with the minimum of conflict. The general population accepts the status quo as inevitable, and revolution is avoided. While Marxists view this as a matter of Capitalist control, Feminists see ideological domination as the means by which women are encouraged to accept a subordinate role in patriarchal …show more content…
Feminist theory shares much common ground with Marxism and many of the ideas of European Marxists have been appropriated and used by feminists. It has been suggested that this is particularly true of the ideas of Althusser and Gramsci (Gramman and Marshment in Strinati.1995.p180). Both of these theorists place emphasis on the idea of ideology as a means of control. Althusser suggests that ideology is not merely inherent in popular cultural practices but becomes `material practice' (Storey.1998.p97) and a part of daily existence. For Althusser ideology is found in the customs, traditions and patterns of behaviour of everyday life in such a way that social actors are not aware of their participation in the acceptance and propagation of the ideas of the most powerful group in society. Using Althusser's theories feminists may suggest that a tradition such as the celebration of Mother's Day can be seen as valourizing that particular role for women, while failing to recognize any other. This may lead women to see the maternal role as the most important one for them in society, thus serving the interests of the dominant male group by encouraging women not only to become mothers, but also to assume the position of primary child carers. Such an interpretation suggests that many traditions and customs are to a large extent ideological.