ideological state apparatus

A term developed by the Marxist theorist Louis Althusser to denote institutions such as education, the churches, family, media, trade unions, and law, which were formally outside state control but which served to transmit the values of the state , to interpellate those individuals affected by them, and to maintain order in a society, above all to reproduce capitalist relations of production . In contemporary capitalist societies education has replaced the Church as the principal ideological state apparatus. Among Marxists, the term is contrasted with the so-called ‘repressive state apparatus’ of the armed forces and police, and is allotted a major role in securing compliance within developed capitalist societies. 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.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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