Ideology is a highly contested phenomenon used in politics, social science and philosophical discourse. Heywood (2003, p12) defines ideology as ‘a more or less coherent set of ideas that provides the basis for organised political action whether this is intended to preserve, modify or overthrow the existing system of power.’ According to Freeden (2003) we are all ideologists in the sense that we prescribe to certain political views in our environment. He goes on to say that ideologies are competing interpretations of making sense of the worlds we live in. Ideologies look at what society should be like and why the society is the way it is. Leach (2002) states that the term ideology is quite problematic. He also defines ideology as “interconnected set of ideas which form a perspective on the world” Leach. R. (2002, p.1) Williams (1998) defines ideology as a system of ideas and beliefs that offer a means of understanding the world. He also adds that these ideas provide a programme to shape the future and seen as a guide to action. From the above, it is clear that there is no agreed definition of what ideology is. My view of ideology is ideas or views attempting to explain how society should be. Political parties may have conflicting ideas on certain issues of society and therefore influence the policies which affect service users.
From this perspective, I can suggest that ideology is related to a set or system of beliefs, ideas and values that individuals, groups and organisations hold. Examples of ideologies include communism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, feminism and fascism.
Implications to Social Work
Many service users who come in contact with social workers will be experiencing poverty and deprivation. Social workers will be there to advocate and advise service users on how to apply for these benefits. According to Thompson (2005) poverty leads to other problems such as poor mental health and social exclusion. Social workers support these...