"… ideological statements are made by individuals, but ideologies are not the product of individual consciousness or intention" – Stuart Hall What does the quote mean and what is its significance?

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What Stuart Hall basically means by this quote is that ideology is not constructed by individuals. Rather, it is a product of social relations and conditions. Ideology is not really a set of ideas, but rather the overarching worldview that generates these ideas. So if an individual expresses an idea...

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What Stuart Hall basically means by this quote is that ideology is not constructed by individuals. Rather, it is a product of social relations and conditions. Ideology is not really a set of ideas, but rather the overarching worldview that generates these ideas. So if an individual expresses an idea about race, for example, this idea is understood within a broader set of understandings that can only be understood in the context of social realities; in fact, this is the only way it can be understood.

Hall, like many other theorists of ideology, was profoundly influenced by the writings of Karl Marx. Marx claimed that ideology was "super-structural," and it could only be understood in terms of the prevailing class and economic relations. But Hall did not, as Marx did, believe that ideology was always "false" when it tended to support the prevailing power structures. Rather, he stressed that ideologies made sense in certain contexts. More accurately, they resulted from the ways that people made sense of reality. He argued for a less "top-down" understanding of ideology than Marx had.

In this quote, Hall is stressing the ways in which ideology is the product of social realities. Ideologies are expressed by individuals in speech, literature (Hall's focus) and other modes of communication and relations, but to really get to the bottom of their meaning and their significance, one must understand the deeper context that generated them.

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