false consciousness

a term deriving from Marxist theory which describes the state whereby dominant ideology so permeates the consciousness of exploited groups that they acquiesce in, justify and perpetuate their own exploitation. Critical reflection and/or sufficient information would, in contrast, enable the exploited to perceive better their situation. Its use has been criticised as suggesting that some other (knowledgeable) person does know what is in the best interests of the exploited, a view which can be used to justify a number of illiberal actions.