The attention devoted to Marxist conceptions of ideology is justified in that, until comparatively recently, discussions of ideology were not prominent in non-Marxist social and political thought. Nevertheless, parallel to the Marxist thinkers discussed in the last chapter, there were important developments in the social sciences in general which influenced the understanding of ideology. For example, the two thinkers who (with Marx) were the founding fathers of sociology – Weber and Durkheim – produced discussions about the genesis and validity of ideas which contributed substantially to subsequent treatments of ideology – Weber as the inspirer of much later empirical investigation in the Anglo-Saxon world and Durkheim as the forerunner of structuralist analyses. The turn of the century also saw the beginnings of psychoanalysis which has had its own rather pessimistic contribution to make to the discussion. Finally, we shall return to the German historicist tradition in the person of Karl Mannheim who produced a comprehensive theory of ideology that is still a reference point for today's discussions.
Weber very rarely mentioned the word 'ideology'. As we saw in the previous chapter, his discussions of the 'iron cage' of increasing bureaucracy and rationalization had a profound effect even on such a very different thinker as Lukacs. But his long, and heavily qualified, search for objectivity in politics places him uncertainly in the democratic tradition moving from Destutt de Tracy to much current Anglo-Saxon political science. Weber was well aware that the undermining potential of the Marxist concept of ideology could be turned against the Marxists themselves – a point later to be elaborated in full by Mannheim. 'The materialist conception of