The New Questions of Subjectivity
The Dominant Ideology Thesis1 by Nicholas Abercrombie, Stephen Hill and Bryan S. Turner is first of all the story of a hunting exploit. It relates how the authors hunt down and finally kill a beast called 'the dominant ideology thesis'. To save some space for due evaluation of this achievement, the beast will hereafter be shortened to DIT and its killers to AHT. Though told in the sometimes jarring tones of Sociologese, it is a fascinating story, which this reviewer read with considerable pleasure. Unfortunately it has become common for reviews to say far too much about the reviewer's pleasure or displeasure, or about his bright ideas in general, leaving the poor reader in the dark about the actual object which occasioned the review. Before embarking upon any further assessment, therefore, let us for a moment allow the authors to speak for themselves.
According to AHT: 'There exists a widespread agreement among Marxists, such as Habermas, Marcuse, Miliband and Poulantzas, that there is a powerful, effective, dominant ideology in contemporary capitalist societies and that this dominant ideology creates an acceptance of capitalism in the working class. It is with this dominant ideology thesis that our book is concerned' (p. 1). 'Ideology' AHT equate with 'beliefs' (p. 188), without any assumption of necessary falseness or misleading content. The authors' argumentation starts with two chapters surveying the theories they criticize and reject. The first focuses on three Marxist writers, Gramsci, Habermas and Althusser; the second on sociological 'theories of the common culture', particularly the work of Talcott Parsons and those influenced by him. AHT hold that there are 'considerable similarities' in the accounts of the social order given by the neo-Marxist DIT and the sociological common culture theory. It is argued that Parsonset al., as well as