Ideology as misrecognition

Stahl, Titus
Journal article
in Global Discourse, Nov 2023



Theories of recognition often acknowledge that some forms of recognition can be ideological. Only recently have authors also begun to ask whether all ideological phenomena involve a more basic form of misrecognition of epistemic agents. I argue that an expressivist reconstruction of the Marxian theory of ideology can help us to understand what forms of misrecognition are involved in ideology. According to this understanding, ideological discourses reflect the rules of hierarchical social practices and impose limits on the capacity of subjects to challenge dominant conceptual distinctions. While rational epistemic subjects will tend to experience such limits as misrecognition, this does not require any negative interpersonal attitudes on the part of others. Therefore, at least some forms of ideology involve primarily structural, rather than interpersonal, misrecognition. I argue that ideologies that persist without involving widespread false beliefs can best be understood in this way and that neoliberalism is a paradigmatic example of such an ideology.


Date of Publication
29 Nov 2023
online first