This course aims to provide an introduction to the main ideologies that structure contemporary political conflict and debate. It is divided in two parts. After an introductory session on the definition of the concept of ideology, the first part is devoted to some of the ‘classical’ political ideologies that emerged over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries and still play a very prominent role in contemporary political conflicts and debates: liberalism, republicanism, socialism, conservatism and anarchism. The second part considers ideological currents that emerged most prominently over the course of the 20th century such as feminism, anti-racism and ecologism. The course ends with a session on the ideology of the ‘end of ideology’ as a way of gauging the question of the continued pertinence of the category of ideology in the 21st century.
Far from aiming to take sides or defend any ideological tradition in particular, the purpose of this course is to deepen the students’ understanding of the complexity and contestability of the issues at stake, in order to provide them with a conceptual ‘map’ to orient themselves amongst the different possible answers that are generally provided to enduring political questions. In keeping with this aim, the course involves a large component of class discussion and debate. About half the classes consist in lectures on exemplary texts from the various ideological traditions to be considered. The other half will consist in structured class debates on issues that emerge from within these traditions. Participation in these debates will be mandatory and graded, inasmuch as they form an integral part of the course.
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