An ideology is a set of beliefs and values that are held by an individual or a group of people. Often we consider that ideology will be helped by a group of people, this validates the ideology. Ideologies are beliefs about the social, economic, cultural, political or religious processes in the society that are held by a majority of people. An ideology forms the basis for these processes, and thus we often see that there is a practical existence of an ideology a much as there is a theoretical existence, but at the same time one must keep in mind that an ideology may not always have a factual basis as ideology is a perspective or simply a world view.
Ideology shapes our actions, thoughts, interactions, etc. which in turn shapes the processes of the society. An ideology often stems out of the social structure and is expressive of the social interests of the society. The term ideology was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, who is French philosopher, he coined this term in the 18th century, he used the term to denote what e called the ‘science of ideas’ which was the study of the nature and origin or the knowledge about things.
We use the term ideology today to refer to the political ideas of those in power, which thus becomes the dominant ideology of society.
E.g. democracy is a political ideology which we see in practice in India today, a totalitarian regime follows the ideology of totalitarianism as in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. When we look back at the past scholars we find that Karl Marx was the first of the scholars to give a theoretical understanding of the term ideology in the discipline of sociology. Marx said that the ideology would arise out of the mode of production of the society, the focus of his study was the societies where capitalism was the mode of production.
His theory was formed on the idea that in the society there was base/substructure and the superstructure, while the base was the relation of production the superstructure consisted of the culture, institutions, political power structures, etc of the society. This superstructure grew out of the base and was often representative of the class interests and what Marx has called the dominant ideology, which is the ideology of the owner class or the bourgeois. According to Marx the base and the superstructure had a dialectical relationship, the effect one another and the dominant ideology is imposed on the working class, once the working class becomes aware of this ideology, they will act on it, which will lead to class consciousness, thus leading to a revolution.
Much of Marx’s ideology is based on the occurrence of this revolution which is based on the shift of ideology. Thus it can be said that the ideology has the power to form an entire basis on which the social processes can be based on.
We see that the ideology in the United States is the one that supports a capitalist society, similarly, the ideology will be different for India, and for other countries and will not be the same for all societies, as they are based on how the society is structured to a very large extent.