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Ideology Studies: An interview with Michael Freeden

Ideology Studies: Michael Freeden interviewed by Mathew Humphrey

Professor Michael Freeden is a founding director of the Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies at the University of Nottingham. Since 2015 Michael has moved on to hold positions at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the University of Oxford.

Michael’s many books have been hugely influential in creating a new understanding of ideology not as a “fanatical doctrine”, but as something we all do. Ideology for him is a way of organising political views into a coherent whole. Most ideologies share many values (we will explore this when we look at freedom, justice, community etc in this course). What sets them apart are the hierarchies of importance in which these values are placed. Freedom, for example, exists in most political ideologies; what is different is whether or not it is given a central place, or ‘top priority’ status, or whether it is subservient to other goals, such as order, development, social harmony or equality. Propaganda is a way of mobilising support around these priorities, by reducing them to simple slogans and quick-fix solutions.

Do you agree? And if we accept this approach, do you agree with Freeden that liberalism is indeed the ideology that has accorded freedom the most important place, and done most to promote it?

For suggested further reading (not compulsory!), click here to read Michael Freeden’s blog on ideologies.

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Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life

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