David W. Minar describes six different ways in which the word "ideology" has been used:
1. As a collection of certain ideas with certain kinds of content, usually normative;
2. As the form or internal logical structure that ideas have within a set;
3. By the role in which ideas play in human-social interaction;
4. By the role that ideas play in the structure of an organization;
5. As meaning, whose purpose is persuasion; and
6. As the locus of social interaction, possibly.
For Willard A. Mullins, an ideology is composed of four basic characteristics:
1. it must have power over cognitions;
2. it must be capable of guiding one's evaluations;
3. it must provide guidance towards action;
4. and, as stated above, must be logically coherent.