The Place of Ideology in the Social World

The Place of Ideology in the Social World - The Place of...

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The Place of Ideology in the Social World. As I have suggested, social phenomena are not "self-evident things": that is, they do not have an independent existence from the people who produce them. In this sense, anything that happens in the social world consists of forms of behaviour that have to be actively interpreted if we are to "make sense" of them. An example of this "interpretation process" might help to make this idea a bit clearer: Imagine that you observe two people walking hand-in-hand down the street. What possible interpretations of this behaviour can you identify? There are, of course, a large number of possible interpretations of this behaviour, a few of which might be that the two people are: Lovers, Parent and child, Friends, Someone leading a blind person. .. Given these possible interpretations, how do we, as individuals, interpret or "make sense" of the behaviour we have witnessed? How, in short, do we explain to ourselves "what is going-on in this situation"? What we do, in effect, is try to use an ideological framework against which we can check our observations. In this sense, we can talk about using an ideological map to chart these observations and locate them within a social context. The features of our ideological map consist of various concepts - ideas that we use to help us locate observed behave in its social context and, by so doing, help us to explain what we see. Thus, in this instance, in order to understand the behaviour of these two people we might use concepts such as: Age - How old are the couple? Gender - Will it make a difference if they are both female / male and female etc? Disability - Are they both able-bodied? By using such basic, general, concepts, we can effectively begin to: a. Suggest possible interpretations that fit our ideological framework. b. Eliminate possible interpretations that do not fit our ideological framework. Thus, if we observe that: They are each 25 - 30 years old, One is male and the other male female and They are both physically able,
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we come up with the possibility that they might be either lovers or friends. Having established roughly what we believe their behaviour to represent we can then refine our interpretation - in the sense that we again refer to our ideological framework of knowledge about how we know "lovers" behave, for example. If we see the couple kissing each other, therefore, we can probably safely assume that the behaviour we have observed is that of two lovers. We can, of course, rarely be certain that our interpretation of this behaviour is 100% correct, for a variety of reasons - but the important point to note here is the process of interpretation. In order to understand people's behaviour we use an ideological framework that allows us to "map" the characteristics of that behaviour against known situations. This ability is very important to us in our lives (since it enables us to recognize social situations and adopt appropriate behaviour for that situation). It allows
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The Place of Ideology in the Social World - The Place of...

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