This study attempts to challenge the literary appropriation of Bakhtin's ideas by exploring his (and his circle's) insights on the terrain of critial social and cultural theory, encompassing a broad range of interpretive, methodological and epistemological concerns that centre on the theory and critique of ideology. Chapters one and two serve to introduce Bakhtin's core concepts (dialogism, polyphony, carnival) through the auspices of a synoptic and exegitical examination of the Bakhtin Circle's major writings. In the second part of the book, the focus is narrowed considerably. Chapter three explores Bakhtin's hermeneutic with respect to three central members of the hermeneutic tradition (Gadamer, Habermas and Ricouer) and also to elucidate the difficult problem of the justification of ideological critique. In chapter five, Bakhtin's concepts are considered in relation to two contemporary attempts to fuse a theory of ideology with discourse - that of Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault respectively - and the attempt is made to vindicate the superiority of a Bakhtinian inspired approach in certain key areas.
The final chapter concentrates on a more critical assessment of Bakhtin's contribution, and attempts to assess the value of his legacy for the purposes of Ideologiekritik by drawing on Gramsci's theory of hegemony.