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The term ideology refers to a system of ideas and beliefs that is dominant within a group or society, and that affects most if not every sphere of social interaction and organization within it—political, economic, scientific, educational, and cultural. Thus, the Nazis had an ideology, and so did the Communist Party in the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), and so, too, does the “Tea Party” on the right and the Democratic Party on the left in American politics. The term evolved during the last decade of the 18th century and has grown to have a wide range of epistemological, theoretical, and historical meanings and interpretations.

The origins of the concept ideology can be traced to 18th-century French philosophical thought. The term idéologie (“ideology”) was ...

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