Ideology and its Pleasures: Althusser, Žižek & Pfaller
Althusser famously explains the constitutive effects of ideology in terms of a process of “interpellation” by which an ISA (Ideological State Apparatus) addresses and calls upon the individuals who become its subjects. To be specific, Althusser asserts that individuals are constituted as subjects by misrecognizing themselves in response to this process of interpellation – a misrecognition that, rather than merely a matter of individuals fitting themselves to the terms in which they are called, involves a misinterpretation, even resistance to, the terms in which they are addressed: “Ideology ʻtransforms’ individuals into subjects by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing” (Althusser 163). Althusser emphasizes that ideological misrecognition is conducted not at the level of ideas – of how subjects come to think about themselves – but rather at the material level of what we may call their ideological practices, which are a matter of how subjects act and interact in response in response to being interpellated: “THESIS II: Ideology has a material existence” (155).
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