Louis Althusser and Ideology

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Althusser’s Two Key Insights in brief

1) His definition of ideology granted ideology a positive (and not merely a reflective or expressive) role. Ideology was itself a structural determinant in the mode of production. Following from the positive role attributed to ideology, the subject was regarded as a political and ideological effect and its agency diminished.

2) His description of the systematic mechanisms through which dominant ideology both reproduces itself and determines individual subjectivity, which consist of RSAs–Repressive State Apparatuses–(penal system, police, military) and ISAs–Ideological State Apparatuses–(educational curriculum, the media, etc.).

Hegel, Marx, Lukacs and Lacan: Althusser’s Influences

Althusser’s work is a reaction to Marxist economism and Hegelian humanist historicism. Hegel regarded history as the progressive understanding and development of the human spirit or Geist. Continue reading