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New Left Review I/142, November-December 1983


Nicholas Abercrombie, Stephen Hill and Ryan S. Turner

Determinacy and Indeterminacy in the Theory of Ideology

The analysis of ideologies and forms of knowledge and belief is in a state of disorder. In contemporary Marxism, the autonomy and independent importance of ideology have been stressed at the expense of a discredited economic reductionism. In many ways this is a desirable development, although, as we have pointed out elsewhere, [1] N. Abercrombie, S. Hill, B. S. Turner, The Dominant Ideology Thesis, London 1980. it also carries with it some very misleading consequences. However, the critical problem that contemporary Marxist theories of ideology have to face is: how is one to reconcile materialism with the autonomy of ideology? This implies a second difficulty: namely, how is one to reconcile the notion of ideology as critique with a general theory of ideology? In terms of disciplinary definitions, there is a parallel question about the relationship of the Marxist theory of ideology to the sociology of knowledge which developed in opposition to classical Marxism.

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