The previous two chapters considered the role of social theory in analysing politics ‘from above’ in the form of the state and governance, and ‘from below’ in the political identities and behaviours of individual citizens. In each case a crucial ingredient was the role of the ideational: ideas, norms, values, culture. We saw in Chapter 2 how these provide a framework of meaning through which the state is legitimised in the eyes of citizens, or through which state actors themselves come to understand their operating environment (for example as being globalised). In Chapter 3 we witnessed the central role of norms and values in providing citizens with a sense of their political subjectivity, and mobilising them towards political action. In the present chapter we elaborate on these aspects by focusing in detail on how social theorists have understood the political role of culture and, in particular, of ideology and discourse.
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