(especially in Marxist theory) a way of thinking that prevents a person from perceiving the true nature of their social or economic situation (esp used to mislead members of the proletariat about their own exploitation)
the Ernesto Laclau solution: that there is no 'natural' link between a given socio-economic position and the ideology attached to it--and therefore that it is meaningless to speak of 'deception' and 'false consciousness' as if there is somehow a standard of 'appropriate' ideological awareness inscribed into the very 'objective' socio-economic situation.
French degree holders thus were in the grips of a form of false consciousness. They thought their degrees entitled them to certain positions that would have been available to them in a previous state of the field, but these positions were becoming scarce as more people entered higher education.
Historically, many on the Left have treated working-class support for the Right as a form of false consciousness. Capital’s control of the means of ideological production (the media) allow them to distort workers’ thinking.