What Is a Political Ideology?

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  • 0:01 Political Ideology Defined
  • 0:48 Examples
  • 3:21 Importance
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Nearly every opinion on the appropriateness or inappropriateness of government policy, ranging from welfare to gun control, is a reflection of a person's political ideology. In this lesson, you learn about political ideology and its importance.

Political Ideology Defined

Ron and Liam live and attend college in a medium-sized city in the Midwestern United States. Ron is a citizen of the United States, while Liam is from Denmark and has come to the United States to study engineering. They have been friends since their freshman year. While Ron and Liam share many things in common, they do hold different political ideologies that sometimes make for heated arguments.

A political ideology is a set of related beliefs about political theory and policy held by an individual, group of individuals or a particular social class. Ron and Liam's respective political ideologies form the basis of how they view the world around them and the proper role of government in the world.


Let's take a look at Ron and Liam's political ideologies. Ron's ideology, like most people from the United States, is liberalism. Liam's ideology, on the other hand, is socialism.

Liberalism is one of the major political ideologies of the world. It focuses on individualism, self-reliance, personal responsibility, equality before the law and limited government. You should understand that liberalism encompasses both American-style liberalism and American-style conservatism.

As a liberal, Ron believes that individuals should be free to develop their potential to the fullest extent possible. He believes that the best form of government to accomplish this goal is democracy. Important freedoms for Ron include the freedom of speech, religion, press and political association. Liberals believe in relatively limited government and governmental regulation. Property should be held privately and the government should leave economic activity pretty much alone. He's suspicious of government and wants it organized in a way to prevent abuse of its power.

Socialism is another major political ideology of the world. As a socialist, Liam shares some of the same beliefs as Ron. Socialists believe that individuals should be equal before the law, just like liberals. However, socialists don't believe that all people can develop independently of each other. In other words, individual development is a collective, or social, effort.

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