POLITICAL IDEOLOGY AS A SYSTEM-JUSTIFYING DEVICE
It should be now clear that we regard ideology as not merely an organizing device or a shortcut for making heuristic judgments about various political objects. It is also a device for explaining and even rationalizing the way things are or alternatively, how things should be different than are. Thus, political ideologies typically make at least tacit reference to some social system, either as an affirmation or a rejection of it (Anderson and singer 2008).
As we have mentioned above, research on system justification theory suggests that most people to varying degrees depending on epistemic, existential, and relational needs, engage in both conscious and non conscious rationalization of the status quo, through the use of spontaneous social judgments and by latching onto pre-existing ideologies such as conservationism.
These and other system-justifying mechanisms affect social, economic, and political arrangement, with fairness and legitimacy. From the point of view of political elites, system justification is beneficial so far as it contributes to the stability of the social system and increases voluntary respect on the part of ordinary citizens (Tyler 2006). The power of ideology to explain and justify conflicts between current social order and some alternative not only maintains support for the status quo, but also serves for its adherences the palliative function of alleviating discomfort associated with the awareness of systematic-injustice or inequality (eg Jost and Hunyady 2002).
The endorsement of system justifying beliefs is associated with increased positive effect, decreased negative effect, and high personal satisfaction or contentment. In an attempt to understand why conservative report is hippies than that of the liberals, Napier and Jost (2008) found that the association between political ideology and subjective well-being was explained to a significant degree by respondents’ differential tendencies to rationalize economic inequality in the society.
Furthermore, the happiness gap between conservatives and liberals in the United States was tied to the nation’s level of income inequality, so that as inequality has increased over the last 30 years, the subjective well-beings of the liberals have dropped more greatly than that of the conservatives. Thus, it appears that system justifying ideologies such as conservatism can “provide a kind of ideological buffer against the negative pleasure on the sequences of social and economic inequality” (Napier and Jost 2008a) .
In sum, ideology can play an important role as a system serving bundle of attitudes, value, and beliefs. However, as with respect to the organizing role of ideology, it is best to conclude with few caveats about the reach of ideology as a system justification device. Although system justifying attitudes, values, and beliefs are widespread, they diffuse or “work” complete, especially in large, highly complex societies and among those who are suspicious of being geographically distant from centers of power (Abercrombie et al. 1980).This opens the door to at least some degree of change and flux in social relations. Nevertheless, we think that it would be mistake to underestimate the ideological significance of the human tendency to make “virtue of necessity” by accepting and even celebrating features of the status quo; from this perspective, system justification motivation appears to give conservatism a psychological head-start over its more critical rivals.
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