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‘Ideology’ is an important word in the vocabulary of political and social commentators and first entered this vocabulary around the time of the French Revolution of 1789. It has two principal meanings.

Firstly, it can describe a particular set of attitudes, beliefs or views of the world. These might attach to, and help to define, a particular social group – for example, a class, a gender group, a political movement or a nation. Examples here might include ‘communist ideology’, ‘Thatcherism’, sexism and racism. In the world of sport, similarly, there have been many ideologies: ‘Muscular Christianity’, amateurism and Olympism among them.

Secondly, ‘ideology’ can refer to ideas which are regarded as false or distorted and which, thus, work to mask social, economic or political interests. So, ...

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