‘Mapping Ideology’ by Slavoj Žižek


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Not so long ago, the term “ideology” was in considerable disrepute. Its use had become associated with a claim to know a truth beyond ideology, a radically unfashionable position. What then explains the sudden revival of interest in grappling with the questions that ‘ideology’ poses to social and cultural theory, as well as to political practice? Mapping Ideology presents a comprehensive sampling of the most important contemporary writing on the subject.

Slavoj Žižek’s introductory essay surveys the development of the concept from Marx to the present. Terry Eagleton, Peter Dews and Seyla Benhabib assess the decisive contributions of Lukacs and the Frankfurt School. A different tradition is revealed in an essay by the French post-structuralist Michel Pecheux, while the study of ideology is exemplified in classic texts by Theodor Adorno, Jacques Lacan and Louis Althusser. An intersection of Gramscian and Althusserian motifs appears in a now famous debate over ‘the dominant ideology thesis’, reprinted here. Pierre Bourdieu succinctly formulates his departure from this tradition in an interview with Eagleton. Further readings of the ideological are explored by Richard Rorty and Michele Barrett. Finally Fredric Jameson supplies an authoritative statement of the nature and position of the ideological in late capitalist society.

Mapping Ideology is an invaluable guide to what is now the most dynamic field of cultural theory.

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