The investigation of embedded values, beliefs, biases, and assumptions within a specific text, in some domain of discourse, or in social practices within a particular cultural context, and of the motivations and power relations underlying these. Ideology critique [German Ideologiekritik] originated with the Frankfurt school, and its focus on identifying the workings of dominant ideologies and the contradictions involved in maintaining them has endured in cultural and critical theory. Approaches such as critical discourse analysis and semiotic and sociological theory in media and cultural studies stress the role of ideology, which semiotic theory frames in terms of the construction of individuals as subjects through the operation of codes. According to the theory of textual positioning, understanding the meaning of a text involves taking on an appropriate ideological identity (see ideal readers). Barthes argues that the orders of signification called denotation and connotation combine to produce ideological myths. Ideological forces seek to naturalize codes—to make dominant cultural and historical values, attitudes, and beliefs seem natural, self-evident, common sense, although the operation of ideology in signifying practices is typically made to appear transparent. Barthes saw myth as serving the ideological interests of the bourgeoisie. Semiotic approaches involve ideological analysis when they seek to denaturalize codes.
Subjects: Media Studies.