For Althusser, dominant ideology turned what was in fact political, partial, and open to change into something seemingly "natural", universal, and eternal. However, dominant ideology is not limited to politics or economics, so, though it may present a particular view of economic relations (as in the common idea that trade-unionism is a brake on economic competitiveness), its primary role is to construct an imaginary picture of civil life, especially the nuclear family, as natural and, most of all, each individual as "unique" and "free". Ideology fragments real connections and interdependencies, producing a picture of social relations which overemphasises individual freedom and autonomy.

(A Cultural Studies Reader, Routledge, 1993, "Introduction" by Simon During)


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