From a Marxist perspective, history is dominated by a struggle between social classes that will only end when a truly classless society has been achieved. Given the fact that throughout history women have been collectively denied important rights, it was almost inevitable that a Marxist feminism would emerge that saw women as constituting a seriously underprivileged class. Moreover, many Marxist concepts , especially as these were redefined by Louis Althusser , seemed greatly relevant. Ideology is inescapable because it is what actually gives us what we experience as our individuality.
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Interpellation is the constitutive process where individuals acknowledge and respond to ideologies, thereby recognizing themselves as subjects. In his definition, Althusser sees ideology functioning as a mediator between systems of power and individuals. It allows for hegemonic power to reproduce itself by obscuring traditional forms of repression and incorporating individuals into the power structure. Althusser complicates the relationship between domination and subjugation by introducing the interpellation process, where individuals recognize themselves as subjects through ideology, thus illustrating how subjects can be complicit in their own domination. In the act of acknowledging that it is indeed he who is addressed, the individual thus recognizes his subjecthood. It is important to note that this subjecthood is double: although he is recognized as a social subject by the law, he is also subjugated to the law. Althusser emphasizes the ubiquity of ideology and interpellation by noting how subjects are consistently constituted by Ideological State Apparatuses ISAs such as the family, educational institutions, and media such as literature, radio and television.
First published in , it advances Althusser's theory of ideology. Where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels posited a thinly-sketched theory of ideology as false consciousness , Althusser draws upon the works of later theorists such as Antonio Gramsci , Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to proffer a more elaborate redefinition of the theory. Althusser's theory of ideology has remained influential since it was written.
Althusser was a Structuralist Marxist. He wrote ideology and ideological state apparatuses in French which was published in In this essay, Althusser tells how the conditions of means of production and productive forces are reproduced and maintained in society. According to Althusser the reproduction of the productive forces is ensured by the wage system that pays a minimum amount to the working class so that they may have to work every day and also may not raise in status. Wages are set not by biological needs but by the historical minimum.