The last chapter established the importance of ideologies, but deliberately avoided or postponed some of the fundamental issues surrounding the study of ideologies. This chapter seeks to remedy that omission, and addresses a number of questions. What is ideology and what purposes do ideologies serve? How do ideologies relate to power and interests on the one hand and science and truth on the other? How can we classify and compare ideologies? How are ideologies transmitted? How far do ideological considerations influence public policy? It will become apparent that there are no generally agreed answers to these questions, rather that the concept of ideology is itself contested, subject to rival interpretations.
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