(De) Contesting ideology: the struggle over the meaning of the struggle over meaning

In this essay I seek to re?examine the ?what is ideology?? question in the light of recent developments in ideology theory. We see that contemporary ideology theory tends to employ either a ?restrictive? or an ?inclusive? conception of ideology. Most theorists operating in the field of ideology study see these two approaches as both rival and exclusive. Furthermore the relationship between the analyst of ideology and the ideological field is at issue in both cases. I argue that the concept/conception distinction allows us to discern that these two approaches do not merely employ rival conceptions of the same concept. There are two concepts of ideology at work here, which perform such radically different roles that their coexistence can be seen as unproblematic, reflecting the presence of both normative and interpretative work in social science
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