Difference Between Ideology and Theory

Ideology vs Theory

What is the difference between Ideology and Theory? In simple terms, ideology  can be identified as a way of thinking or a set of ideas that people uphold in a society. Theories, on the other hand, are a generalized thinking or a conclusion of something that is a result of an analysis. Ideologies are not scientifically proven or they may not be right arguments whereas theories have been confirmed scientifically via experiments and they are known to be correct.

What is an Ideology?

Ideologies, as mentioned above, are thinking patterns or a set of ideas upheld in a society. Ideologies may characterize the consciousness of people and they sometimes guide peoples’ behavior as well. Ideologies may exist in a person’s mind, consciously or unconsciously and these may be the dominate set of ideas in a particular community that the person lives. Ideologies are sometimes received by people in their lifetime or these may be results of the socialization. Ideologies are upheld by the dominant party in a society, and they influence over the common people as well, by shaping their ideologies.

Ideologies are not scientifically proven to be right or wrong. These may be beliefs of a group of people and the whole community shares them. However, an ideology in a particular community represents the beliefs, thinking patterns and lifestyles of its people. It can be said that a community has been developed around a certain set of ideologies that the particular community upholds. The political system, economic system, culture and traditions in a community may revolve around a set of ideologies, representing their uniqueness.

What is a Theory?

Theory is a result of an analysis. No one can propose a theory without analyzing the data and there should be transparency in any theory. Also, theories can be identified as generalizations of concepts. Theory is different from the hypothesis. Hypotheses are assumptions that a scientist makes before an experiment. If his/her assumptions are proved to be true, the hypotheses may turn to be theories. However, not all hypotheses become theories.
Moreover, theory can be used as an analytical tool in understanding, explaining and making predictions in a given concept. Theory usually explains the logical stand of something and theory tells us what something is. However, it does not include the practical aspect. Theories only explain a certain phenomenon.

Difference Between Ideology and Theory

What is the difference between Ideology and Theory?

• When comparing both ideology and theory, we can identify that ideologies are beliefs or thoughts of people in a community whereas theories are experimented concepts.

• It is difficult to prove that ideologies are false, but a theory can be proven to be wrong with evidence.

• However, ideologies shape a community while theories provide explanations to existing phenomena.

• Further, both theories and ideologies can be identified in almost all the societies.

• These give meaning and an understanding to the human life, explaining the true nature of the contextual incidents.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Theory by P. S. Burton (CC BY-SA 3.0)