A major contribution to the social scientific understanding of how people make sense of their lives, Ideological Dilemmas presents an illuminating new approach to the study of everyday thinking. Contradictory strands abound within both ideology and common sense. In contrast to many modern theorists, the authors see these dilemmas of ideology as enabling, rather than inhibiting: thinking about them helps people to think meaningfully about themselves and the world.
The dilemmas within ideology and their effects on thinking are explored through the analysis of what people say in specific key situations: education, medical care, race and gender. The authors identify common ideological themes running through the common-sense discourses they analyse. They highlight the tensions between themes of equality and authority, freedom and necessity, individuality and collectivity. Time and again, the contradictions between these ideological themes crop up as respondents argue and puzzle over their social worlds.
Written with refreshing clarity, the discussion cuts across the boundary which often separates sociology from social psychology. Sociologists are reminded that the reproduction of ideology involves individual processes of thinking; social psychologists are urged to recognize the ideological nature of thought.