Nicholas Abercrombie, Stephen Hill and Bryan S. Turner
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 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.
The significance of these problems is nicely illustrated by Göran Therborn 's The Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology, 2 in which he attempts to clarify a variety of theoretical issues in contemporary Marxism and sociology. He conceives his project as taking ' Marx's insights as a point of departure for an attempt at a more systematic theory' (p. 41). Elsewhere he suggests that Marxism has a great deal to learn from the empirical findings of sociology, and in our view his own attempt to generate a new theory of ideology can also be seen as an attempt to synthesize a sociological perspective with Marxism. This is a most interesting project. Nevertheless, there is clearly a wide variety of possible destinations even if one takes Marx as one's point of departure, since one can as easily end outside the Marxist tradition as within it, nor need the terminus be a theory that is systematic or general.