by Elizabeth Parsons
Based on the classical Greek words ideo, meaning idea, and ology, referring to a branch of knowledge, a systemic set of ideas, or a form of discourse, the concatenated word “ideology” derives from the French ideologie. The concept arose as part of a French philosophical movement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century period of Enlightenment, and its original meaning was to denote a science of ideas. In the nineteenth century, the term was taken up by Karl Marx to label the unconscious system of beliefs in a social group, and specifically socioeconomic class structures (Bennett, Grossberg, and Morris 2005). Louis Althusser (1971) then revised the concept by using Jacques Lacan’s theories of psychoanalysis, principally his concept of the imaginary, to explain the role of language and representation in producing ideological positions. Althusser’s work was taken up by later Marxist scholars, notably by Fredric Jameson in relation to capitalism and modernity.