1. The ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, and culture of the ruling class in a society; usually also the function of these in validating the status quo. The nature and coherence of capitalist ideology is disputed, but it is usually held to include the belief in private property and economic growth.
2.Dominant ideology thesis. In Marxist theory, the argument that the dominant classes in society exercise considerable control over the circulation of ideas (see also manipulative model) and that the working class tends to accept its subordination because the prevailing ideology functions to naturalize and legitimize the social inequalities of the status quo, for instance by promoting the value of hard work (see also common sense; legitimation; naturalization; symbolic violence). This is argued to generate a ‘*false consciousness’ among the masses. In capitalist societies this ideology thus functions to sustain social order and cohesion. Critics question the ideological power of the dominant classes and the degree of acceptance of such ideas by subordinate groups. They also argue that the thesis underestimates the role of factors such as economic constraints, legal and political coercion, and institutional socialization in maintaining social order. Such factors may be so powerful that the dominant classes can afford a degree of pluralism and tolerance of political, social, and cultural deviance. Critics also note that the thesis overestimates the extent and importance of social integration and cohesion in modern societies and fails to account for persistent conflict: see also media hegemony.