Political Ideology: Definition, list & Types (2022)

What is a political ideology? Why are political ideologies important? Are conservatism and anarchism political ideologies? In this article, we will answer these questions and more as we provide you with a general overview of the main political ideologies you will likely read about in your political studies.

Political ideologies are a core component of your political studies. During the course of your studies, you will encounter a number of political ideologies ranging from liberalism to ecologism.

It is important to understand what a political ideology is not just for school, but also to have a general understanding of politics in the world. Let’s see what ideologies are and what they seek to achieve.

What are political ideologies?

The word ideology came about during the French Revolution and was coined by Antoine Tarcy. Ideology means the science of ideas.

Political Ideology: Definition, list & Types (1)Definition of ideology.

Aside from being the political science of ideas, political ideologies are also defined as:

a) A system of beliefs about politics.

b) A view of the world held by a social class or group of people.

c) Political ideas that embody or articulate class or social interests.

d) A political doctrine that asserts a monopoly of truth.

The roles of political ideologies

The role of political ideologies is to establish a set of ideas that can be used to provide the foundation of political organisation. As a result, all political ideologies have three specific features:

  1. A realistic interpretation of society as it currently is.

  2. An idealised interpretation of society. Essentially, an idea of what society should be like.

  3. An action plan on how to create a society that reflects the needs and wants of all its citizens. Essentially, a plan of how to get from number one to number two.

List of political ideologies

In the table below is a list of the different types of political ideologies that you may have come across before. We will explore a few of them later in this article.

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Political Ideologies
LiberalismEcologism
ConservatismMulticulturalism
SocialismFeminism
AnarchismFundamentalism
Nationalism

The main political ideologies

In political science, it is widely accepted that the three main political ideologies are conservatism, liberalism, and socialism. We also refer to these ideologies as classical ideologies.

Classical ideologies are the ideologies developed prior to or in the midst of the industrial revolution. These are some of the earliest political ideologies.

Conservatism

Conservatism is characterised by its reluctance to or suspicion of change. Conservatives call to maintain tradition, underpinned by a belief in human imperfection and attempts to uphold what they view as the organic structure of society.

Like many other ideologies, such as liberalism and nationalism, the origins of conservatism can be traced back to the French Revolution. Conservatism rejected the rapidly increasing changes that were occurring in the French society, for example, the rejection of hereditary monarchies.

Therefore, conservatism emerged in a bid to uphold the social order. Whilst many ideologies seek reform, conservatism is strong in its belief that change is not necessary.

The core concepts of conservatism are pragmatism, tradition, paternalism, libertarianism, and the belief in an organic state.

Types of conservatism
One-nation conservatismNeo-conservatism
The New RightTraditional-conservatism
Neo-liberalism

Liberalism

Political Ideology: Definition, list & Types (2)Liberalism key points, dreamstime.com.

Liberalism is arguably one of the most influential and widely embraced ideologies of the previous centuries. The western world has embraced liberalism as the ruling ideology and the majority of political parties in Britain and the US hold at least some of its principles. Liberalism was born as a response to the ruling power of monarchies and the privileges that the upper classes had. At its inception, liberalism reflected the views of the middle-class and became a part of the Enlightenment.

As a political ideology, liberalism rejects what is viewed as traditional social ideas and emphasises the importance of personal freedom, and the power of individual and collective rationality. This emphasis on individual freedom and rationality has contributed to its sustained embrace as an ideology.

The core ideas of liberalism are liberty, individualism, rationalism, the liberal state, and social justice.

Types of liberalism
Classical liberalism Modern liberalism
Neo-liberalism

Socialism

Socialism is a political ideology that has historically opposed capitalism. The roots of socialism are in the Industrial Revolution and it is heavily influenced by the theories and writings of Karl Marx. However, the intellectual theory behind socialism can be traced back to ancient Greece.

Socialism aims to establish a human alternative to capitalism and believes in the concepts of collectivism and social equality as the foundation for a better society. Socialist ideologies also seek to abolish class divisions.

The core ideas of socialism are collectivism, common humanity, equality, workers’ control, and social classes.

Types of socialism
Third-way socialismRevisionist socialism
Revolutionary socialismSocial democracy
Utopian socialismEvolutionary socialism

Different political ideologies

After exploring what is considered the ‘main political ideologies’, let’s explore some of the less common political ideologies that you may encounter in your political studies.

Anarchism

Anarchism is a political ideology that places the rejection of the state at its epicentre. Anarchism rejects all forms of coercive authority and hierarchy in favour of the organisation of society based on cooperation and voluntary participation. While most ideologies are concerned with how to manage authority and rule in society, anarchism is unique in that it rejects the presence of both authority and rule.

The core ideas of anarchism are liberty, economic freedom, anti-statism, and anti-clericalism.

Types of anarchism
Anarcho-communism Anarcho-syndicalism
Anarcho-pacifism Utopian anarchism
Indivudalist anarchism Anarcho-capitalism
Collectivst anarchism Egoism

Nationalism

Nationalism is an ideology based on the concept that a person’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state are more important than any individual or group interest. For nationalists, the nation is of utmost importance. Nationalism originated in the late eighteenth century during the French Revolution. Hereditary monarchy and loyalty to a ruler were rejected, and people went from being subjects of the crown to citizens of a nation.

The core ideas of nationalism are nations, self-determination, nation-states, culturalism, racialism, and internationalism.

Types of nationalism
Liberal nationalism Conservative nationalism
Ethnic nationalism Consevrative nationalism
Expansionist nationalism Post/ Anti-colonial nationalism
Pan-nationalism Socialist natioanlism

Ecologism

Ecologism studies the relationship between living organisms and their environments as the first law of ecology states that everything is related to each other. Ecology was once solely considered a branch of biology but since the mid-twentieth century, it is also considered a political ideology. Our planet is currently under severe threat. The threats to the earth include global warming, climate change, the loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and waste. At the current rate of destruction, there is a chance that the earth will soon be unable to sustain life. This threat to the earth is what has placed ecologism at the forefront of twenty-first-century politics. Ecologism as a political ideology is a response to unregulated industrialisation.

The core ideas of ecologism are ecology, holism, environmental ethics, environmental consciousness, and postmaterialism.

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Types of ecologism

Shallow ecology

Deep ecology

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is the process in which distinct identities and cultural groups are acknowledged, maintained, and supported in society. Multiculturalism seeks to tackle challenges that arise out of cultural diversity and minority marginalisation.

Some argued that multiculturalism is not a fully-fledged ideology in its own right, rather it serves as an arena for ideological debate. However, you will likely encounter the concept of multiculturalism in your study of political ideologies.

The key themes of multiculturalism are diversity within unity. The emergence of multiculturalism has been strengthened by the trend towards international migration since the end of the Second World War, colonialism, and the collapse of communism.

The core ideas of multiculturalism are recognition, identity, diversity, and minority/minority rights.

Types of multiculturalism

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Conservative multicultralism

Cosmpopolital multiculturalism

Pluralist mulitcultualsim

Liberal multiculturalism

Political Ideology: Definition, list & Types (3)A depiction of diversity, pixabay.com.

Feminism

Feminism is a political term that emerged in the 1900s. It is an ideology that fundamentally seeks to establish the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. This drive to seek equality is not limited to those spheres, as feminism observes that women are disadvantaged by their sex in all spheres of life. Feminism seeks to combat all forms of sex-based inequality.

The core ideas of feminism are sex and gender, body autonomy, equality feminism, the patriarchy, difference feminism, and intersectionality.

Types of feminism

Liberal feminism

Socialist feminism

Radical feminism

Postcolonial feminism

Postmodern feminism

Transfeminism

Political Ideology: Definition, list & Types (4)Image from the 1970s women's liberation march, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons.

Political theology

Political theology differs slightly from the aforementioned ideologies in that it is not actually a political ideology in itself. Rather, it is a branch of political philosophy from which some political ideologies emerge. Political theology refers to the relationship between politics, power, and religious order. Political theology seeks to describe the ways in which religion plays a role in the political sphere.

The history of political theology can be traced back to the emergence of Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the empire, churchmen were the only educated class or organisation of people left and therefore the Church assumed positions of political power which served as an amalgamation of both religion and politics.

Political theology is concerned with answering questions of authority, divinity, and sovereignty.

Exploring the role and history of political theology can help us to understand phenomena such as the emergence of secularism or the rise in religious fundamentalism in the modern day.

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Political Ideologies - Key takeaways

  • The word ideology came about during the French Revolution and was coined by Antoine Tarcy. It is the science of ideas.
  • Political ideologies are a system of beliefs about politics.

  • The role of political ideologies is to establish a set of ideas that can be used to provide the foundation of political organisation.

  • All political ideologies have three specific features:

    1. A realistic interpretation of society as it is currently.

    2. An idealised interpretation of society. Essentially a picture of what society should be like.

    3. An action plan on how to create a society that reflects the needs and wants of all its citizens. Essentially. a plan of how to get from number one to number two.

  • Classical ideologies are ideologies that were developed prior to or in the midst of the emerging industrial revolution. These are some of the earliest political ideologies.

  • The three main classical ideologies are conservatism, liberalism, and socialism

  • Anarchism, nationalism, ecologism, feminism, multiculturalism, and political theology are other important ideologies to know for your political studies.

  • Each political ideology can be divided into other ideologies.

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FAQs

What is ideology and its types? ›

An ideology is a collection of ideas or beliefs shared by a group of people. It may be a connected set of ideas, or a style of thought, or a world-view. It was coined by a French philosopher, Destutt de Tracy in 1801/5. There are two main types of ideologies: political ideologies, and epistemological ideologies.

What are the 4 political ideologies? ›

Contents
  • 2.1 Conservatism.
  • 2.2 Liberalism.
  • 2.3 Moderates.

What are the 5 major political ideologies? ›

Contents
  • 1 Anarchism (kinds of ideologies) 1.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 2 Communism. 2.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 3 Conservatism. 3.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 4 Environmentalism. 4.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 5 Fascism. 5.1 General. ...
  • 6 Feminism and identity politics. 6.1 Political internationals. ...
  • 7 Liberalism. ...
  • 8 Nationalism.

What are the 3 features of ideology? ›

Ideology in the stricter sense stays fairly close to Destutt de Tracy's original conception and may be identified by five characteristics: (1) it contains an explanatory theory of a more or less comprehensive kind about human experience and the external world; (2) it sets out a program, in generalized and abstract ...

What are ideologies definition? ›

Definition of ideology

ideology
1 : of, relating to, or based on ideology. 2 : relating to or concerned with ideas.
https://www.merriam-webster.com › dictionary › ideological


1a : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture. b : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program. c : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture.

What is the scope of political ideology? ›

A political ideology is a set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, or a large group. These political ideologies explain how society should function, and offers a blueprint for a certain social order.

What are the six themes of ideology? ›

Here is a list of possible themes that often present themselves in ideologies:
  • nation.
  • class.
  • race.
  • relationship to the land or environment.
  • gender.
  • religion.
  • progressivism.

What are the four types of liberalism? ›

Political philosopher John Gray identified the common strands in liberal thought as being individualist, egalitarian, meliorist and universalist.

What are ideologies example? ›

An ideology is a belief system that underpins a political or economic theory. Ideologies form the operating principles for running a society. Examples of ideologies include liberalism, conservatism, socialism, communism, theocracy, agrarianism, totalitarianism, democracy, colonialism, and globalism.

What are characteristic of political ideologies? ›

Political ideology

Political ideology
In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › List_of_political_ideologies
is a set of ideas, beliefs, values, and opinions, exhibiting a recurring pattern, that competes deliberately as well as unintentionally over providing plans of action for public policy making in an attempt to justify, explain, contest, or change the social and political arrangements and processes of ...

What is the theory of ideology? ›

Ideology is a system of concepts and views which serves to make sense of the world while obscuring the social interests that are expressed therein, and by its completeness and relative internal consistency tends to form a closed system and maintain itself in the face of contradictory or inconsistent experience.

What are ideological functions? ›

Ideology functions as the superstructure of a civilization: the conventions and culture that make up the dominant ideas of a society.

What is the class definition of ideology? ›

Word forms: ideologies

An ideology is a set of beliefs, especially the political beliefs on which people, parties, or countries base their actions.

What is the main ideology? ›

An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. autocracy or democracy) and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism or socialism). The same word is sometimes used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas.

What is a modern ideology? ›

Description. Modern political thought with emphasis on political movements of this century: conservatism, liberalism, socialism, statism and radicalism. The role of political ideologies

political ideologies
In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › List_of_political_ideologies
in modern political systems.

What are the 3 types of political systems? ›

The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.

What is conservatism? ›

Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions and practices. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the status quo of the culture and civilization in which it appears.

Who is the father of theory of liberalism? ›

These ideas were first unified as a distinct ideology by the English philosopher John Locke, generally regarded as the father of modern liberalism. Locke developed the radical notion that government acquires consent from the governed, which has to be constantly present for a government to remain legitimate.

When was ideology first used? ›

We meet with the word "ideology" for the first time in 1801 when Destutt de Tracy coined the term "ideologie. "10 Napoleon Bonaparte con- temptuously referred to the "ideologues" as the mongers of metaphysical trash, and fixed the popular connotation of the terms as visionary moon- shine.

Why is ideology important in society? ›

Ideologies have an explanatory function: they provide explanations for the facts and problems of the social life, so enabling individuals and groups to orientate themselves in society. They also have an evaluative function.

Who is the father of ideology? ›

The term was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher, who conceived it in 1796 as the "science of ideas" to develop a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational impulses of the mob.

What is Karl Marx ideology? ›

Marxism is a philosophy developed by Karl Marx in the second half of the 19th century that unifies social, political, and economic theory. It is mainly concerned with the battle between the working class and the ownership class and favors communism and socialism over capitalism.

What is the structure of ideology? ›

It is the system of ideology, its mode of combining its elements that give them meaning; it is its structure that determines its significance and its function. Since it is de- termined by its STRUCTURE, ideology is greater than the sum of all the ways in which it is lived by one or another individual.

What are the different types of ideology in the world? ›

Contents
  • 1 Anarchism. 1.1 Classical. 1.2 Post-classical. ...
  • 2 Authoritarianism. 2.1 General. 2.2 Other. ...
  • 3 Communitarianism. 3.2 Other. 3.3 Regional variants.
  • 4 Communism. 4.1 Leninism. ...
  • 5 Conservatism. 5.1 General. ...
  • 6 Corporatism. 6.1 General. ...
  • 7 Democracy. 7.1 General. ...
  • 8 Environmentalism. 8.1 Bright green environmentalism.

What is an ideology example? ›

An ideology is a belief system that underpins a political or economic theory. Ideologies form the operating principles for running a society. Examples of ideologies include liberalism, conservatism, socialism, communism, theocracy, agrarianism, totalitarianism, democracy, colonialism, and globalism.

What is ideology according to Karl Marx? ›

The Marxist concept of ideology is a word to describe a set of ideas and beliefs that are dominant in society and are used to justify the power and privilege of the ruling class.

What is ideology theory? ›

The theory of ideology and the study of language are two concerns which bear a close connection. For the theory of ideology has commonly sought to examine the ways in which 'meaning' or 'ideas' affect the conceptions or activities of the individuals and groups which make up the social world.

What are the six themes of ideology? ›

Here is a list of possible themes that often present themselves in ideologies:
  • nation.
  • class.
  • race.
  • relationship to the land or environment.
  • gender.
  • religion.
  • progressivism.

What are the different types of government? ›

Some of the different types of government include a direct democracy, a representative democracy, socialism, communism, a monarchy, an oligarchy, and an autocracy. Help your students understand the different forms of government with these classroom resources.

What are the types of economic ideology? ›

Experts have categorized economies around the world into four types: traditional; command; market; and mixed.
  • Traditional. ...
  • Command. ...
  • Market. ...
  • Mixed. ...
  • Capitalism. ...
  • Laissez-Faire. ...
  • Social Market. ...
  • Neo-Capitalism.
22 Jul 2020

When was ideology first used? ›

We meet with the word "ideology" for the first time in 1801 when Destutt de Tracy coined the term "ideologie. "10 Napoleon Bonaparte con- temptuously referred to the "ideologues" as the mongers of metaphysical trash, and fixed the popular connotation of the terms as visionary moon- shine.

Why is ideology important in society? ›

Ideologies have an explanatory function: they provide explanations for the facts and problems of the social life, so enabling individuals and groups to orientate themselves in society. They also have an evaluative function.

What are the 7 elements of Marxism? ›

7 Basic Premises of Marxism | Communist Thought
  • Dialectical Materialism:
  • Historical Materialism:
  • Stages of History:
  • Labour theory:
  • Class Struggle:
  • Socialist Society:
  • Withering Away of the State:

Who is the father of ideology? ›

The term was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, a French Enlightenment aristocrat and philosopher, who conceived it in 1796 as the "science of ideas" to develop a rational system of ideas to oppose the irrational impulses of the mob.

Is law an ideology? ›

If law is a system of enforceable rules governing social relations and legislated by a political system, it might seem obvious that law is connected to ideology. Ideology refers, in a general sense, to a system of political ideas, and law and politics seem inextricably intertwined.

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