I got started thinking about these parallels after seeing what Joseph Campbell said about the functions of myth and what economist Robert Higgs said about the functions of ideology. I saw some similaritiess.
The four functions of mythology according to Campbell are:
1. Mystical-Realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are and experiencing awe before the mystery. Myth opens the world to the dimension of mystery, to the realization of the mystery that underlies all forms.
2. Cosmological dimensions-This is the dimension with which science is concerned-showing you what the shape of the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery comes through.
3. Sociological-This supports and validates a certain social order. These myths vary from place to place.
4. Pedagogical-How to live a human life under any circumstances.
Although not identical to, these are similar to the aspects of ideology mentioned by Higgs. The sociological function is akin to Higgs's solidary aspect while the pedagogical function is akin to Higgs's programmatic aspect. The cosmological aspect can be seen as similar to the cognitive aspect in that they both aim at explaining why the world is as it is. The pedagogical function can also be seen as similar to the affective aspect of ideology in that it can communicate morals.
Given that the world is full of uncertainty, everyone has an ideology or lives by a mythology. One can never scientifically "prove" that their ideology is the correct one. Furthermore, how does one choose and then adhere to an ideology? There must be some emotional, irrational attachment to it. As mentioned earlier, people are swayed by the emotional and symbolic rhetoric of issue entrepreneurs. They often do this with poetry (as Higgs mentions) or stories. Every ideology has within it a myth or mythology. This provides it with the necessary emotional foundation, without which no political movement would be successful.
The following is a summary of how ideology works in politics according to Higgs:
1. There are few ideologies. This is because ideology has to be coherent and comprehensive.
2. They are produced by opinion leaders and the public or masses consume them. Most people get their ideas from reading or hearing politicians speak and we agree or disagree.
3. Ideologies constrain and propel change (political action)
4. Ideology becomes prominent during social crises.
5. Leaders cause consumers to act through rhetoric.
For Higgs, an ideology is successful because of its rhetoric.
"Ideological expression aims to persuade, but not in the cool dispassionate manner celebrated by the rational ideal of science and philosophy. Of course it may be rational, at least in part, and it may appeal to indisputable facts. But the persuasive power of ideological expression arises for the most part from neither logic nor facts. It arises mainly from the unabashedly polemical character of the rhetoric employed."
Here is more from Higgs on ideology:
Ideology has four aspects:
The first is the cognitive aspect, which determines our understanding and perception of the world.
The second is the affective aspect, which tells us what is good or bad in a moral sense.
The third and fourth aspects are the programmatic and solidary. These propel a person to "act in accordance with his cognitions and evaluations as a committed member of a political group in pursuit of definite social objectives." Higgs uses the last aspect, the solidary aspect, to justify the introduction of ideology into the standard utility function used by economists. These usually contain the commodities that people consume because of the selfish wants and desires that individuals are said to have according to neoclassical economic theory. But ideology is added because of two additional desires human beings have: the desire to belong to a group and to have a self image or identity that arises from group membership.