01 Nov 1961
TL;DR: The nature of belief systems in mass publics (1964) Critical Review: Vol. 18, Democratic Competence, pp. 1-74 as discussed by the authors, was a seminal work.
Abstract: (2006). The nature of belief systems in mass publics (1964) Critical Review: Vol. 18, Democratic Competence, pp. 1-74.
TL;DR: The concept of ideology has been studied extensively in the social sciences as mentioned in this paper, with many definitions of ideology circulating within the field of social sciences in the postwar decades, including those of Campbell et al. (1960), Converse (1964), and McClosky (1964).
Abstract: What does "ideology" mean? As a preliminary step to answering this muchasked question, I collected what seemed to be the most thoughtful and/or influential definitions circulating within the social sciences in the postwar decades. 1 A quick perusal of these definitions reveals the extent to which ideology remains a highly flexible conceptual tool (see Table 1). One is struck not only by the cumulative number of different attributes that writers find essential, but by their more than occasional contradictions. To some, ideology is dogmatic, while to others it carries connotations of political sophistication; to some it refers to dominant modes of thought, and to others it refers primarily to those most alienated by the status quo (e.g., revolutionary movements and parties). To some it is based in the concrete interests of a social class, while to others it is characterized by an absence of economic self-interest. One could continue, but the point is already apparent: not only is ideology farflung, it also encompasses a good many definitional traits which are directly at odds with one another. Indeed, it has become customary to begin any discussion of ideology with some observation concerning its semantic promiscuity.2 Few concepts in the social science lexicon have occasioned so much discussion, so much disagreement, and so much selfconscious discussion of the disagreement, as "ideology." Condemned time and again for its semantic excesses, for its bulbous unclarity, the concept of ideology remains, against all odds, a central term of social science discourse. How, then, are we to understand this semantic confusion, and how are we to deal with it? Five common approaches can be identified among writers in the social sciences: operationalization, terminological reshuffling, intellectual history, etiology and multivocality. In the following section, I outline each of these endeavors and demonstrate their limitations. I then proceed to a new approach which comprehensively maps the meanings of ideology onto a single, reasonably concise, semantic grid. I conclude with a brief discussion of "core" meanings for ideology, and a plea for context-dependent methods of definition. COMMON APPROACHES 1. Operationalization Among those who study "behavior" in American politics, discussion of ideology has centered on a single empirical question: how ideological is the mass public (compared, that is, with political elites)? There have been a good many twists and turns in this debate since it was introduced by Campbell et al. (1960), McClosky et al. (1960), Converse (1964), and McClosky (1964). But the debate over the ideological proclivities of the mass public does not seem much closer to resolution today than it did in the 1960s.3 The reason for this lack of resolution has something to do with problems of data incommensurability through time and differing methods of operationalizing variables, as generally recognized. Less often recognized are the various problems of definition inherent in the concept of ideology. Is an "ideological" mode of thought characterized by abstraction, internal consistency, external contrast, endurance through time, rationality, sophistication, a hierarchical ordering of idea-elements, parsimony-or some combination of these characteristics? Is it separate from group affiliation and/or party affiliation? Such questions, which merely scratch the surface of scholarly debate among behavioralists, are "definitional" in the sense that no answer can claim a priori precedence over another. Each definitional attribute may, of course, be operationalized in different ways, raising a second tier of disputes. Indeed, some writers take the position that definitional tasks are contained within-and rightfully subservient to-tasks of operationalization. "It matters primarily not what you call it, but how you measure it," is the implicit approach of many behavioralists. Although there is surely much to be said for a pragmatic/ empirical approach to concept definition, this has not proven an entirely successful strategy in the instant case. …
TL;DR: The authors traces the use of the concept in the Review since its launch in 1906 and reveals changing fashions in the connotation of the term, but suggests an underlying agreement on the essential components of ideology.
Abstract: Ideology has been the subject of a surprising amount of attention during the last half of the twentieth century. Although it has been argued that the term has been “thoroughly muddied by diverse uses” (Converse 1964, 207), an empirical investigation of the pages of the Review reveals substantial convergence among political scientists over time on a core definition. This essay traces the use of the concept in the Review since its launch in 1906. It reveals changing fashions in the connotation of the term, but suggests an underlying agreement on the essential components—coherence, stability and contrast—and underlines the centrality of the concept of ideology in political science.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present an empirically based analysis of ideology and the end of ideology in British and Italian politicians, based on interviews with 93 British MPs and 83 Italian deputati.
Abstract: “Elite political culture” may be defined as the set of politically relevant beliefs, values, and habits of the most highly involved and influential participants in a political system. Studying elite political culture requires methodological innovation which will allow us to do justice to the subtleties of the belief systems of sophisticated political leaders without doing violence to our normal standards of reliability and verification. As one example of the study of elite political culture, this paper presents an empirically based analysis of “ideological politics” and “the end of ideology.” After some clarification of the logical structure and empirical assumptions of existing descriptions of “ideological politics,” these descriptions are examined in the light of data from a study of the basic beliefs and values of British and Italian politicians, based on intensive interviews with random samples of 93 British MPs and 83 Italian deputati. The core of the notion of “ideological politics” is interpreted in terms of “political style,” that is, how politicians talk and think about concrete policy problems such as poverty or urban transportation. Each respondent's discussion of two such issues was analyzed in terms of 12 “stylistic characteristics,” such as “inductive-deductive thinking,” “use of historical context,” “moralization,” and “reference to distributive group benefits.” Ratings of these stylistic characteristics are found to cluster in intelligible ways, and on the basis of the dominant stylistic dimension, an Index of Ideological Style is constructed. Those politicians who rank high on this Index are also found to be more ideologically motivated, more abstract in their conceptions of politics, especially party politics, and more idealistic than their less “ideological” colleagues. They are also more alienated from existing socio-political institutions and are concentrated at the extremes of the political spectrum. Further investigation shows, however, that contrary to the assumptions of the existing literature, these “ideologues” are not more dogmatic, not less open to compromise, not more antagonistic to the norms of pluralist politics, not more hostile to political opponents. Partisan hostility and ideological style are found to be two distinct syndromes. The “end of ideology” thesis is examined by comparing the attitudes and style of respondents from different political generations. In both countries younger politicians are markedly less dogmatic and hostile, but in neither country are they any less “ideological” in their approach to political phenomena and problems of public policy. In the light of these data the “end of ideology” debate is reformulated. The probable causes and consequences of both the decline of partisan hostility and the persistence of ideology are discussed. Finally, some conclusions are drawn concerning the role of ideology in politics and concerning the theoretical promise and methodological problems of studying elite political culture.
TL;DR: In this article, a detailed content analysis of depth interview transcripts reveals substantial variation in the way citizens relate the condition of their own lives to those of their fellow citizens and to political authorities.
Abstract: Conceptual differentiation refers to the number of discrete elements of political information individuals utilize in their evaluation of political issues. In contrast with the more commonly used textbookish political knowledge indices, this measure corresponds more closely to knowledge-in-use. Conceptual integration is defined as the spontaneous and explicit organization of ideas and information in terms of abstract or ideological constructs and represents an expansion of Philip Converse's research on levels of ideological thinking in mass publics. These two related dimensions of political information processing emerge from a detailed content analysis of depth interview transcripts. The analysis reveals substantial variation in the way citizens relate the condition of their own lives to those of their fellow citizens and to political authorities. As expected, education plays a central role in explaning these patterns, but there are some surprising interactive linkages between education and patterns of pol...