“Rediscovering” Ideology Critique (Again): Toward a Critical Realist Analysis of Political Media Effects

Matt Guardino


This article outlines a blueprint for ideology critique in political media grounded in critical realist philosophy of science. The approach brings theories of ideological hegemony as explicated by Antonio Gramsci and Stuart Hall into dialogue with social-psychological theories of issue framing. The article argues that oppositions between critical-cultural and social scientific approaches to communication are sometimes drawn too sharply. It positions critical realist notions of causality, truth, methodology, and politics as a bridge between leading traditions of ideology critique and media effects that can enable multimethod analyses of hegemony in news texts and popular attitudes. This synthesis is illustrated with reference to U.S. media coverage and public opinion on neoliberal economic and social welfare policy. The article elaborates one way in which work that connects intellectual paradigms can inform and motivate critical and systematic interrogation of unequal and undemocratic power relations in media communication.


hegemony, ideology, media effects, framing, critical realism, neoliberalism

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