Democracy, Hegemony, Ideology: The Social Relations of the Democratic Revolution in Athens, 508 - 322 B.C.
"Each of these essays represents an attempt to connect historical reality with ideology, practice with theory. In brief, I suppose that in classical Athens, ideology ... is not merely a mask for an underlying reality ( e.g., 'market-based relationships,' 'the mode of production,' or 'people's genuine needs and interests') but rather is among those elements that constitute historical reality: People act in certain ways because they take certain postulates to be true, because they believe things. The connection between ideology and reality is manifested and carried forward by discourse (things people say) and by practice (things people do). Thus we have in play the three apparently discrete categories of believing saying and doing. But in writing a histories of ideologies, these categories cannot remain fully distinct from one another. A central tenet of these essays is that discourse is an aspect of social practice and, as such, not only reflects beliefs, but brings into being social and political realities. Thus, in the terminology developed by Michel Foucault, power in society is not simply repressive or juridical, it is discursive and productive of the 'truths' by which people organize the categories of analysis and the hierarchies of value that constitute the ordinary unquestioned (and almost unquestionable) order of things. Or, to put it another way (following the fundamental work of J. L. Austin), it is possible to 'do things with words' because speech is not merely descriptive but also performative, and because, in the appropriate rule-structured social setting, words will not only refer to a prior reality, they will change that reality. This being the case, it is the historian's job to understand the rules and associated social structures that permit certain forms of speech, by certain speakers and in certain circumstances, to 'do things' that similar forms of speech, by different speakers or in other circumstances, cannot do; to trace how the rules change over time and according tow what logic and impetus; and to explain the effects of 'speech acts' - successful or (in Austin's terms) 'felicitous' speech performances - on the society in question (or subgroup within a society) and or its relationships with other societies and subgroups." pp. 7-8
Josiah Ober, The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Political Theory, Princeton University Press, 1996.