Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis AlthusserLouis Althusser’s renowned short text ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks of cultural, political and literary theory. The text has influenced thinkers such as Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Zizek.
The piece is, in fact, an extract from a much longer book, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, until now unavailable in English. Its publication makes possible a reappraisal of seminal Althusserian texts already available in English, their place in Althusser’s oeuvre and the relevance of his ideas for contemporary theory. On the Reproduction of Capitalism develops Althusser’s conception of historical materialism, outlining the conditions of reproduction in capitalist society and the revolutionary struggle for its overthrow.
Written in the afterglow of May 1968, the text addresses a question that continues to haunt us today: in a society that proclaims its attachment to the ideals of liberty and equality, why do we witness the ever-renewed reproduction of relations of domination? Both a conceptually innovative text and a key theoretical tool for activists, On the Reproduction of Capitalism is an essential addition to the corpus of the twentieth-century Left.
Ideological state apparatus (Education)
I must now expose more fully something which was briefly glimpsed in my analysis when I spoke of the necessity to renew the means of production if production is to be possible. That was a passing hint. Now I shall consider it for itself. As Marx said, every child knows that a social formation which did not reproduce the conditions of production at the same time as it produced would not last a year. Let us ignore this last distinction for the moment. Here we are entering a domain which is both very familiar since Capital Volume Two and uniquely ignored. Nevertheless, everything outside this point of view remains abstract worse than one-sided: distorted — even at the level of production, and, a fortiori , at that of mere practice.
Friday, March 30, 2012
In contemporary capitalist societies education has replaced the Church as the principal ideological state apparatus. Beyond reproducing the assumption that the state itself reflects a particular class interest, the theory of ideological state apparatus has also been criticized for simplifying relations between these institutions and the state, and underestimating their autonomy or potential for such autonomy. It also allowed too facile an equation of challenging authority within education with weakening the capitalist system as a whole. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. September 14,