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Technologies of ideology: A contribution to a critique of movie theory

, University of South Florida, United States

University of South Florida . Awarded


In the 1990s, David Bordwell and Noel Carroll founded "Cognitive Movie Theory" in opposition to "Postmodernist Movie Theory," which they correctly regarded as a loose combination of pyschoanalytical, semiological and Marxist theories. I closely examine the reasons for and the results of their opposition to Postmodernist Movie Theory. It appears that at the heart of it is a debate over the work of one of the "founding fathers" of Postmodernism, the French Philosopher Louis Althusser.

I examine and criticize Althusser's theories of ideology. I suggest that he has made a certain contribution to Marxist theory with his division of Repressive State Apparatuses and Ideological State Apparatuses, but examining his conception of ideology as a "mirroring" process and a type of "interpellation" or calling, I find this particular theory of Althusser's to be too underdeveloped and ahistorical to be very useful, at least in the singular form in which he presents it. It takes no account of important historical changes in ideology throughout history. I propose to replace it with a theory examining the relationship of ideologies to technologies of ideology. Using this theory, one focuses on the historically changing technologies used to transmit ideology within a given society. I give some concrete historical examples of how ideology changes with changes in technologies of ideology.

I also discuss some works of Raymond Williams and Edward Buscombe that I think are helpful to understanding and developing the concept of movies as a technology of ideology. My main conclusion is that both Cognitive and Postmodern Movie Theory may be useful ways of understanding movies, but a more Marxist or generally socio-historical-economic approach is also needed. I am hopeful that this work will be a contribution to an ongoing critique of Movie Theory and, more generally, to an ongoing critique of all theories of ideology.


Raskin, J. Technologies of ideology: A contribution to a critique of movie theory. Ph.D. thesis, University of South Florida. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from .

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