For Mannheim, there are two "distinct and separable meanings" of ideology. The first is the particular conception of ideology. The particular conception of ideology plays out on a more personal scale. Mannheim defines it as "[denoting] that we are skeptical of the ideas and representations advanced by our opponents" (336). In a sense, Mannheim describes the act of pointing out this conception of ideology much as one who discovers a liar; we recognize the "true" nature of the situation, whereas our opponent "disguises the real nature of situation" in order to account more fully for his or her interests. The second definition is the "total conception" of ideology. In this "total" conception of ideology, Mannheim is referring to the "ideology of an age or of a concrete historico-social group, e.g. of a class." In this sense, it refers somewhat to Marx's idea of ruling class, ruling ideas. The first conception of ideology is in some way a function of psychology, whereas the second, "total," conception is a function of noology, or a way of knowing. What is meant though by this term, ideology? Mannheim says that knowledge is distorted and ideological when it fails to take account of the new realities applying to a situation, and when it attempts to conceal them by thinking of them in categories which are inappropriate" (340). The term "utopia" is in itself very similar because it too is incongruous with reality. However, Mannheim gives a very precise definition by saying, "Only those orientations transcending reality will be referred to by us as utopian which, when they pass over into conduct, tend to shatter either partially or wholly, the order of things prevailing at the time" (341). We see first that both idea, ideology and utopia, are seen as "transcending reality," but what does this mean? They are considered "transcendent" or "unreal" because "their contents can never be realized in the societies in which they exist, and because one could not live and act according to them within the limits of the existing social order" (342). There are differences, again, between these thoughts. Ideologies are transcendent ideas which never succeed in the realization of their content. As an example, Mannheim gives the idea of Christian brotherly love, to which he says, "the individual... is always compelled to fall short of his own nobler motives" (342). Utopias also "transcend reality" because of their orientation to elements which reality does not contain. However, utopias break from ideology, and as described by Mannheim "they are not ideologies in the measure and in so far as they succeed through counteractivity in transforming the existing historical reality into one more in accord with their own conceptions" (343). Therefore, a position becomes truly utopian when its realization would change the very "reality" at that historical moment. This differs from a merely ideological position in the measure that ideologies can never be realized fully and have a sort of conservative effect. For Mannheim, that which makes a utopia truly distinct from an ideology depends on historico-social reality and the groups therein. Mannheim says that, "the representatives of a given order will label as utopian all conceptions of existence which from their point of view can in principle never be realized" (343). This is an important distinction because their rejection of the utopian functions to serve their interest in maintaining the status quo, in which they already hold a certain position. The representatives of a given order discount all utopias as not only impossible to realize in the given social order but also in every social order, in order to suppress all utopias as impossible ideas. However in the same way that these representatives have a "utopia-blindness," there is an equal blindness to the existing order in those too emphasizing utopia and revolution, or anarchists who promote a false authoritarian vs. libertarian dichotomy. The distinction between ideology and utopia is further blurred by the fact that utopian ideals can also contain ideological elements. This is seen in Mannheim's example of bourgeois freedom. In this example, the bourgeoisie's ideal of freedom was a truly utopian ideal, because it sought to destroy the bonds of the guild system and create a new social order. However, this bourgeois class also made concessions to "equality," which was contradictory to their ideals of freedom and set up goals in opposition to the truly utopian notion of freedom, so the idea of equality was in this sense the ideological element which is a part of their truly utopian goals.
Blog Post #1 - Critical Theory: Mannheim, Horkheimer & Adorno, Marcuse
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- Course Information, Odds & Ends (5)
- Fun Stuff to Help us Understand and Love Theory! (1)
- Lecture Slides (13)
- [1-25] Marx & Engels I: Alienation and Historical Materialism (3)
- [1-30] Marx & Engels II: History and Class Struggle (5)
- [2-01] Marx & Engels III: Capitalism and the Labor Process (9)
- [2-06] Durkheim I: Society and Social Facts (4)
- [2-08] Durkheim II: Solidarity and Modern Life (2)
- [2-13] Durkheim III: Collective Conscience, Egoism, Anomie (4)
- [2-15] Weber I: Method of Social Science (3)
- [2-20] Weber II: Bureaucracy and Politics (8)
- [2-22] Weber III: Religion and Rationality (4)
- [2-29] Self and Society: Mead, Simmel, Du Bois (5)
- [3-05] Critical Theory: Mannheim, Horkheimer & Adorno, Marcuse (4)
- [3-19] Micro-Sociology I: Schutz and Berger & Luckmann (5)
- [3-21] Micro-Sociology II: Goffman & Blumer (6)
- [3-28] Institutional Analysis: DiMaggio & Powell and Granovetter
- [4-02] Foucault I: Power, Discourse, and Knowledge
- [4-04] Foucault II: Disciplinary Control and Biopower
- [4-09] Anthony Giddens
- [4-11] Pierre Bourdieu I
- [4-16] Pierre Bourdieu II
- [4-18] Race, Gender, Difference I: Smith and Collins
- [4-23] Race, Gender, Difference II: Fanon and Patterson
- [4-25] Jurgen Habermas
- [4-30] (Post)Modernity I: Elias, Bauman, Latour
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This page contains a single entry by Jordan Duesterhoeft published on March 4, 2012 11:30 PM.
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