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Identity and Ideology in Media and Society

année académique

Titulaire(s) du cours

Jan Zienkowski (Coordonnateur)

Crédits ECTS


Langue(s) d'enseignement


Contenu du cours

Ideology and identity are two concepts that lie at the heart of many debates about media and society. This course provides conceptual and methodological tools to understand and analyze identity and ideology in media and society. 

What do we mean when we label an individual or organization as ideological? Why is the qualification of 'ideology' so often used as a way to disqualify the practices, points of view, ideas or values of an opponent? And why is ideology sometimes considered to be indispensable for civil society actors and politics? Are we talking about a form of false consciousness? About a set of values and ideas? About the social and political imaginaries we build to imagine our past and our futures? Is ideology merely rhetoric or is it something more tangible, a practice infusing everyday life, consisting of everyday justifications that reproduce the inequalities that structure our societies? And why do human beings get so emotional when discussing ideological issues? We will investigate how mediatized images, narratives and discourses come to play a role in our processes of identification. To do so, we will deal with ideology as a mode of political awareness that allows subjects to embrace and pursue a preferred sense of self and vision of society.

The first part of this course focuses on theories and concepts of ideology and identity relevant to the field of media studies. Everyday uses of these terms will be problematized in the process. The second part of this course will zoom in on specific issues and case studies. Case studies will focus on topics such as: climate change; online fan-cultures; conspiracy theories; economic and security issues; affect and emotion in political discourse. This list is non-exhaustive. The goal is to identify the interpretive logics that structure our understanding of controversies unfolding in the media. We could discuss mediatized discussions of gender-related controversies analyzing mediatize audiovisual materials, as well as a selection of newspaper editorials, and online discussions. We may also include mediatized discourses produced by organizations and institutions such as think tanks, academic institutions, civil society movements and public administrations.

Objectifs (et/ou acquis d'apprentissages spécifiques)

  • Students will be familiarized students with theories of ideology, media and society necessary for critical analyses of public debates and discourses. 
  • Students will be provided with methodological and conceptual tools to analyze the relation between ideology and identity constructed in media and society
  • Students will be trained in the reading of anglophone scientific publications relevant to the study of identity and ideology
  • Students will be familiarized with critical and poststructuralist approaches for analyzing discursive manifestations of ideology.

Méthodes d'enseignement et activités d'apprentissages

  • lectures
  • guest lectures
  • reading assignments
  • collective discussions
  • analytical exercises

Références, bibliographie et lectures recommandées

This is a non-exhaustive list of recommended resources on the topics of identity and ideology: 

  • Bailes, John. 2019. Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies and Neoliberalism. Zero Books.
  • David Hawkes. 1996. Ideology. 2nd ed. The New Critical Idiom. London: Routledge
  • Finlayson, Alan. 2012. ‘Rhetoric and the Political Theory of Ideologies’. Political Studies 60 (4): 751–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00948.x.
  • Finlayson, Alan. 2022. ‘YouTube and Political Ideologies: Technology, Populism and Rhetorical Form’. Political Studies70 (1): 62–80. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321720934630.
  • Freeden, Michael. 2003. Ideology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Freeden, Michael. 2021. Ideology Studies: New Advances and Interpretations. London: Routledge.
  • Freeden, Michael, Lyman Tower Sargent, and Marc Stears, eds. 2013. The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Glynos, Jason. 2021. ‘Critical Fantasy Studies’. Journal of Language and Politics 20 (1): 95–111. https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.20052.gly.
  • Heywood, Andrew. 2017. Political Ideologies: An Introduction. 6th ed. Bloomsbury.
  • Howarth, David. 2000. Discourse. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Howarth, David, Aletta Norval, and Yannis Stavrakakis. 2000. Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Maly, Ico. 2024. Metapolitics, Algorithms and Violence: New Right Activism and Terrorism in the Attention Economy. London: Routledge.
  • Ostrowski, Marius. 2022. Ideology. Polity.
  • Savas, Coban. 2019. Media, Ideology and Hegemony. Brill.
  • Stavrakakis, Yannis. 2022. The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
  • Thompson, John B. 1991. Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Van Dijk, Teun A. 1998. Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage Publications.
  • Verschueren, Jef. 2011. Ideology in Language Use: Pragmatic Guidelines for Empirical Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Zienkowski, Jan. 2017. Articulations of Self and Politics in Activist Discourse: A Discourse Analysis of Critical Subjectivities in Minority Debates. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Žižek, Slavoj. 1994. Mapping Ideology. London: Verso.

Support(s) de cours

  • Université virtuelle
  • Syllabus

Autres renseignements


For all practical questions concerning exercises, exams, absences, etc. ... please send a message to Juliette Parmentier via juliette.parmentier@ulb.be . 

For all content-related questions and feedback regarding the course, you may send a message to jan.zienkowski@ulb.be. 




Méthode(s) d'évaluation

  • Examen écrit

Examen écrit

  • Question ouverte à développement long

Throughout the course students will be expected to complete reading assignments and analyses in preparation of public discussions in class. Students will be asked to hand in their reading assignments and analyses via the UV, which will provide food for discussion in class. Participation in these exercises will count for 20% of the final grade in the first semester. 

Construction de la note (en ce compris, la pondération des notes partielles)

In the first exam session students will be evaluated based on two elements: 

- participation in reading assignments and exercises (20%) - questions to be answered in English
- written exam with open-ended questions (80%) - questions to be answered in French or in English

In the second exam session students will be evaluated on the basis of one element only: 

- written exam with open-ended questions (100%) - questions to be answered in French or in English

Langue(s) d'évaluation

  • anglais
  • (éventuellement français )