Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
IDEOLOGIES OF OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS

According to Karl Mannheim, ideology was originally a science of ideas with no inherent ontological. This conception of ideology did not dwell on the value of different spheres of reality or on the ideas reflecting them, but was interested primarily in the theory of ideas.

In the political evolution of the nineteenth century the conception of ideology became a special formulation and ultimately, in Marxist thought, an interest in a sociological analysis of the opponent's ideas. Such a view traces the thought of a group to its class interests, and in Marxism represents a challenge to the validity of the position of the bourgeoisie. As Mannheim has pointed out in his Ideology and Utopia, "Nothing was to prevent the opponents of Marxism from availing themselves of the weapon and applying it to Marxism itself."1 This was to depreciate neither the sociological insights of Marx nor the value of this special formulation of ideology. On the contrary, he felt that Marx's contribution to the sociology of knowledge "deserves a high rank in intellectual history and should not be minimized."2

But the more restrictive evaluative position represented by such a special view of ideology hardly allows for broad sociological generalizations about the nature of society as an historical event. For such generalizations one must use a broader, more inclusive view of the nature and meaning of ideology. "At the present stage of our understanding," says Mannheim, "it is hardly possible to avoid this general formulation of the total conception of ideology, according to which the thought of all parties in all epochs is of an ideological character."3 And so for Mannheim, "with the emergence of the general formulation of the total conception of ideology, the simple theory of ideology develops into the sociology of knowledge. What was once the intellectual armament of a party is transformed into a method of research in social and intellectual history generally."4

We have accepted Mannheim's view that studies of ideology really

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