Marxist theorist Makoto Itoh has defined ideology as "a more or less total system of social thought, or `a coordinated set of beliefs and ideas' which is historically relative and apt to be related with a certain political position."
According to the theory of Historical materialism developed by Karl Marx, the ideology espoused by the people of a historical era is heavily influenced by the type of economic relations predominant in that era. So, for instance, ideology in the Feudal era, which had an agrarian economy with limited markets, little wage labour, and distribution according to custom, was of a very different flavour than ideology in the present, capitalist, era in which industry is highly developed, and markets and money rule. Capitalist ideology privileges, for example, individualism and scientific enquiry much more than did feudal ideology which conversely emphasised obedience to social hierarchy, and faith.
- The Preface to A contribution to a Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx (1859) is a classical statement on this subject.
- The Basic Theory of Capitalism, p 1. (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England; 1988.) He cites Maurice Dobb, Theories of Value and Distribution since Adam Smith (1973) p 1.