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Seaver College Professor Jason Blakely Explores Political Ideology in New Book

Jason Blakely

Jason Blakely, an associate professor of political science at Seaver College, recently published Lost In Ideology—a book in which he explores and contextualizes 13 prominent political ideologies that have emerged in the last four centuries

“We have a bad idea of what ideology itself is,” says Blakely. “We think of ideology as someone else's—a crazy uncle or neighbor’s—problem. I hope this book provides people with a better philosophical concept of the subject.”

Lost In Ideology

Lost In Ideology was inspired by a class at Seaver College. When Blakely first arrived on campus in 2013, he was asked to teach Introduction to Ideology: A Cultural Approach. Ideology, he explained, is not a prominent topic within most political science programs. But upon wading into the thick of the subject matter with his students, Blakely found the topic to be both engaging and relevant. 

“Part of how I developed this book was by teaching that class,” he says. “A lot of my thinking on political ideology was shaped by teaching the subject to Pepperdine students.”

Each time the course was offered, Blakely grew his syllabus to incorporate different political movements. The process of systematically analyzing each ideology caused him to visualize a book that did something similar. Thus, when Agenda Publishing (distributed by Columbia University Press) approached him about writing something new, Blakely pitched, in essence, the class he was asked to teach upon joining the Pepperdine faculty.

The resultant book specifically evaluates liberalism, conservatism, civic republicanism, white supremacy, progressivism, socialism, communism, fascism, nationalism, feminism, multiculturalism, ecologism, and neoliberalism. Blakely explains how these ideologies form social maps for people to use in everyday life. He believes that although these systems of thought are effective at providing people with the necessary knowledge to traverse difficult social terrain, they inevitably distort elements of reality. 

“One of the greatest scholars of ideology in the last century is an American anthropologist named Clifford Geertz. He created a very famous metaphor, comparing ideologies with maps that help guide modern people in social space,” says Blakely. “The more I thought about ideology, the more I realized that ideologies are world-making  maps—meaning if you change the map, it can change the world.”

Lost In Ideology is Blakely’s fourth book in eight years. Beyond his numerous scholarly texts, he is widely published in popular presses such as the Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post. This latest work, Blakely hopes, encourages readers to address and engage with their own beliefs and ideologies. 

“The book is a guided tour of rival ideologies,” he says. “I’m trying to give readers an account of these ideologies from the inside out.”

To learn more about Blakely’s new book, visit Agenda Publishing’s website.