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Two Views of Ideology . Stuart Hall and Slavoj Zizek . Starting Questions Hall Ideology “ rediscovered ” a process of signification Site of struggle classification Historicized . Zizek The book Outline of the article Fantasy . Outline. Starting Questions.

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Two views of ideology

Two Views of Ideology

Stuart Hall and Slavoj Zizek


Starting Questions


Ideology “rediscovered”

a process of signification

Site of struggle




The book

Outline of the article



Starting questions
Starting Questions

  • How are Hall’s views of ideology different from, and similar to, those of Althusser’s, Jameson, or Eagletons’? And how is he similar to Hebdige’s approach? What have them learned from Gramsci?

  • Can you give some examples of media events to explain how ideology is a site of struggle?

  • How does Zizek move beyond Althusser in his use of Lacan to explain ideology? Is his view of “form” and abstraction different from Hall’s signification?

  • Can you find examples of the “dream work” of ideology?

Hall the rediscovery of ideology
Hall: The rediscovery of Ideology

the post-war history of social scientific thought:

  • the pluralist paradigm developing out of the clash of ideologies during World War II.

  • the pluralist paradigm collapsing in the face of the social upheavals of the '60s.

    power => the power to define reality

    3. a period of “extraordinary science”

    -- Media as the "signifying agents“;

    -- brought "the ideological" to the fore in media studies (65)

Hall the rediscovery of ideology1
Hall: The rediscovery of Ideology

full title: "The rediscovery of Ideology: Return of the repressed in media studies." In Culture, Society and the Media, 56-90. New York: Routledge, 1982.

-- an attack of the traditional American approach to the study of mass communication, also known as the effects tradition (1051)

Ideology as a process of signification
Ideology as a process of signification

  • Combination (narrativization) and selection (exclusion) = process of encoding (also decoding the common sense of the audience) 1051

  •  constructing privileged meanings

Struggle over meaning
"struggle over meaning."

  • the mass media do tend to reproduce interpretations which serve the interests of the ruling class,

  • but they are also 'a field of ideological struggle'.

  • E.g. industrial debate; p. 1052

Classification and framework
classification and framework

  • Classification: different systems produce different terms and meanings;

  • Framework  “positionality” p. 1053

  • Unconscious

Ideological signification historicized
Ideological signification historicized

  • Gramsci’s view of “common sense” folklore 1055

  • P. 1056 “historical grammars”

    • deep structure of presuppositions

    • their logic of arrangement

Class struggle of language multiple meanings in signification
Class struggle of language; multiple meanings in signification

  • Multiple referentiality;

  • Althusser too uni-accentual p. 1060

    • closure: equivalence of discourse and reality

  • The class struggle in language= struggle between two different terms 1061

    • Changing the terms

The sublime object of ideology
The Sublime Object of Ideology

  • Critique “the fundamental antagonism” in Marxist views;

  • Joins Marxism and Lacan; (p. 4)

    • Post-Marxist -- “[affirms] the irreducible plurality of particular struggles , demonstrating how they articulation into a series of equivalences depends always on the radical contingency of the social-historical process”

    • Lacanian psychoanalysis– enable us to grasp this plurality itself as a multitude of responses to the same impossible-real kernel”

The sublime object of ideology 2
The Sublime Object of Ideology (2)

  • Sees antagonism of death drive vs. pleasure principle in many fields (e.g. democracy, ecology, etc.)

  • Thesis: Hegelian dialectics as “the most consistent model of such an acknowledgement of antagonism.”

The sublime object of ideology 3
The Sublime Object of Ideology (3)

  • Three purposes: (7)

  • -- re-introduces Lacan as non-poststructuralist, “the most radical contemporary version of the Enlightenment.”

  • “return to Hegel” –by giving it a new reading on the basis of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

  • Re-define ideology through a new reading of classic motifs such as commodity fetishism.

How did marx invent the symptom outline
“How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?”: Outline

  • Form of Dream//Commodity-form  the unconscious: the “real abstraction”  money as “the sublime object”

  • Social symptom

  • Commodity fetishism: necessary condition in capitalist society

  • Ideology defined:

  • modern society is “post ideological”  cynical reasoning; fantasy in the doing

How did marx invent the symptom
“How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?”

  • Fundamental homology between the interpretive procedure of Marx and Freud--. . . between their analysis of commodity fetishism and of dreams (11/t: 312)

Two views of ideology

  • Dream: manifest content  latent thought  the unconscious desire

  • Dream needs analysis; 2. Attention should be centered on form (dream work).

  • Commodity: chancy determination of commodity’s value  determination by labor-time (a secret)

  • “even after we have explained [their] hidden meaning…what is not yet explained is simply [their] form, the process by which the hidden meaning disguised itself in such a form.” (15/t:313)

Real abstraction
real abstraction

  • Exchange of commodity implies a double abstraction:

    • The abstraction from the changeable character of the commodity;

    • Abstraction from its ‘sensual properties’ (17/t: 314)

Real abstraction 2
real abstraction (2)

  • Real abstraction: “the act of abstraction at work in the very effective process of the exchange of commodities” (17/t: 315)

  • e.g.

    • positive content  a priori categories;

    • Physical content  commodity value

    • Latent thought  manifest content.

    • money (changeable, perishable)  universal value, indestructible; “This immaterial corporality of ‘the body within the body gives us a precise definition of the sublime object.” (18)

Real abstraction 3
real abstraction (3)

  • (critique of Althusser’s rejecting this category)

  • The real abstraction introduces the third element--the symbolic order—to the binary of “real object” and “form of thought”

  • The unconscious: the form of thought external to the thought itself

The social symptom
The Social Symptom

  • “Symptom”: “a particular element which subverts its own universal foundation.” (21/t: 316) e.g. the idea of freedom; negation of equivalent exchange.

Commodity fetishism
Commodity Fetishism

  • 1. ‘a definite social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things’ (Marx 1974, 77)

  • 2. A misrecognition [of] what is really a structural effect of the network of relations between elements (price) [as] “an immediate property of one of the elements” (commodity), as if this property belongs to it outside its relations with other elements. (23-24)

Commodity fetishism1
Commodity Fetishism

  • Necessary when the relations between men are not fetishized (as they were in feudal society).


  • a social reality whose very existence implies the non-knowledge of its participants as to its essence (21/t: 316)

  • Contemporary form: cynicism (knows the falsehood, but does not denounce it). (29/t: 319)

  • Cynical reason . . .”leaves untouched the fundamental level of ideological fantasy, the level on which ideology structures the social reality itself.” (30/t: 320)  not knowing in the doing; a fetishist in practice but not in theory (31/t:320)


  • "ideology is not a dreamlike illusion that we build to escape insupportable reality; in its basic dimension it is a fantasy-construction which serves as a support for our "reality" itself" (45/t: 323)

  • e.g. a father’s dream of seeing his dead son burned.

Ideology 2 critique of althusser
Ideology (2)-- Critique of Althusser

  • a gap between ISA and “ideological interpellation”, or how does ISA internalizes itself?

  • “this external ‘machine’ of ideology exercises its force only in so far as it is experienced, in the unconscious economy of the subject, as a traumatic, senseless injunction.”

  • “The is always a residue, a leftover, a stain of traumatic irrationality and senselessness”  ensures the authority of law.

Fantasy as a support of reality
Fantasy as a Support of Reality

  • (against ideology as illusion to be unmasked; or reality as illusion—or fiction)

  • Lacan – a hard kernel of “the Real”

  • The only way to break the power of our ideological dream is to confront the Real of our desire which announces itself in this dream.

  • E.g. to critique anti-Semitism:

    • not by saying “Jews are really not like that”

    • but by pointing out that “the ideological figure of a Jew a way to stitch up the inconsistency of our own ideological system.”

Beyond interpellation
Beyond Interpellation

  • the theory of ideology descending from the Althusserian theory of interpellation – focus too much on “the efficiency of an ideology exclusively through the mechanisms of imaginary and symbolic identification.”

  • “The dimension 'beyond interpellation' which was thus left out has nothing to do with some kind of irreducible dispersion and plurality of the signifying process ... 'Beyond interpellation' is the square of desire, fantasy, lack in the Other and drive pulsating around some unbearable surplus enjoyment. (124)

Beyond interpellation1
Beyond Interpellation

  • -- two readings of ideology

  • Discursive, ‘symptomal reading’

  • Extracting the kernel of enjoyment, at articulating the way in which –beyond the field of meaning but at the same time internal to it – an ideolgoy implies, manipulate, produced a pre-ideological enjoyment structured in fantasy.

Slavoj zizek
Slavoj Zizek

  • a professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • politically active in Slovenia during the 80s, a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990, and  most of his works are moral and political rather than purely theoretical.

  • (source)