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The VDP-triad in ideational analysis. Toward a general theory of ideological thought-content in social and political communicationj, debate, thought and language - beyond the concepts 'ideology', 'culture', 'belief-system', 'discourse' and 'policy': Part I
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Statskunskap)
2018 (English)In: Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, ISSN 0039-0747, Vol. 120, no 2, p. 277-359Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

I will propose a unified analytical frame, or a general theory, of the inner structure of social and political thought or ideas, as well as idea-systems. I will reconstruct and modernize the (not totally original, yet partwise forgotten) hypothesis that all social and political thought consists of three generic thought dimensions, underlying the symbolic surface of the language-use: first, values or value-judgements (V); secondly, descriptions and judgements of reality (D); thirdly, prescriptions, recommendations or practical proposals for action (P). These three, I hold, are always directly or indirectly combined in argument-sequences of practical reasoning. I term these argument-sequences VDP–triads. Such triads – this is the kernel of my proposed general theory – form the argumentative (dialogical or dialectical), action-guiding and action-directing backbone of the common ideal-type political ideologies (such as liberalism, conservatism, feminism etc.). They are also present as the inner argumentative backbone of deliberative political debate, public policy, and opinion-forming political propaganda; and of the cultural beliefs and action-guiding or action-accompanying thoughts in everyday, social and political communication and language. My proposed general theory is thus content-oriented and morphological, regarding the thought-content and inner structure of ideas and idea-systems; not functional or causal, regarding the societal role or spread of ideas, or the psychological or historical origins of them.

The theory-developing method is synthesizing and reconstructive, based on a concept-historical, concept-critical and theory-critical investigation of the prevailing knowledge situation. I use already existing theoretical building-bricks from the three main theoretical traditions regarding ideas: the political science knowledge tradition regarding ‘political ideologies’, as well as a bunch of approach-specific concepts like ’policy’ or ‘doctrine’; general social theory regarding ‘culture’ respectively ‘ideology’; and the Marxist and post-Marxist notions of ‘dominant Ideology’ and ‘dominant Discourse’. All these three theoretical traditions have conceptual shortcomings in some respects, as I see it, or have tenable theorems in other respects. Thus, I find some theoretical building-bricks useful, while others are disregarded or dismissed. My proposed general theory consists of three parts: 1) a theoretical anchoring in general social theory; 2) a theoretical model (the VDP-triad); and 3) a two-level analytical scheme, involving the fundamental and the operative levels of action-guiding or action-accompanying thought. As a scientific hypothesis, brought forth through critical analysis of the prevailing knowledge situation, and a subsequent, reconstructive and synthesizing effort, I consider my proposed general theory (hypothetically) as the argued ‘strong alternative’ compared to the other theoretical alternatives.

My elaborations start from a meta-theoretical perspective of political understanding and from the notion of the rationalizing mission for the social sciences, especially political science, vis-à-vis the actual problems of the contemporary situation, the proposed public policies and the positions of various actors in the political debate. The theory is intended for use in descriptive, content-oriented and classificatory analyses of social and political ideas (idea-analysis); and in systematic, empirically, logically and normatively rationalizing criticism of the same ideas (idea-criticism).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Fahlbeckska stiftelsen, Lunds universitet , 2018. Vol. 120, no 2, p. 277-359
Keywords [en]
ideational analysis, idea-analysis, idea-criticism, critical analysis, political ideologies, concept of Ideologi, culture, discourse, belief-system, policy-ideas, policy-content, analytical sociology, Marxist ideology-theory, Talcott Parsons, Harold Lasswell, Arnold Brecht, David Easton, Herbert Tingsten, Jürgen Habermas, Louis Althusser, Michel Pécheux, Michel Foucault, Teun van Dijk, Norman Fairclough, Ruth Wodak, discourse studies, critical discourse analysis, discourse analysis
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-79780OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-79780DiVA, id: diva2:1391698
Available from: 2020-02-05 Created: 2020-02-05 Last updated: 2020-02-07Bibliographically approved

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