As John B. Thompson notes, the concept and theory of ideology ‘first appeared in late eighteenth-century France’ via the thinking of the PhilosopheDestutt de Tracy and has come to mean ‘systems of thought’, ‘systems of belief’ or ‘symbolic systems’ which pertain to social action or political practice’. Central to the study of ideology is the rise of ‘mass communication’ and its relationship with the state. Writing mainly regarding the influential role of the press in twentieth-century life, Thompson acknowledges its seventeenth and eighteenth century precursive forms and remarks that ‘[t]he reproducibility of symbolic forms is one of the key characteristics that underlies the commercial exploitation of technical media by institutions of mass communication, and the commodification of symbolic forms which these institutions pursue and promote’.If ideology is promulgated by and within mass communication and viewing positions, how then are we to interpret the matter of looking at an eighteenth-century caricature? How might an ideological effect work within what was considered a ‘low’ art form? What was the caricature’s relationship with ‘high art’? What intensity of viewing is necessary – how many people need to be able to ‘see’ - for there to be an ‘ideological’ impact? Is there a concrete difference between the reception of a political caricature, and one concerning manners, such as arose in very large numbers in the last third of the eighteenth century in England? How can we determine the ideological function of eighteenth-century printed satires of fashion? What was the ideological role when observed of the ‘witty expressions and humorous sallies’ that were a popular consumer item, as d’Archenholz observed of the many such broadsheets being sold in the streets of
 John B. Thompson, Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), p. 2.
 Thompson adds: 'For social life is, to some extent, a field of contestation, in which struggle takes place through words and symbols as well as through the use of physiscal force.' Ibid., p. 10.
 Ibid., p. 166.
Bloomsbury Academic, 2015. 111-136 p.