(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)
On one level, they are drowning in what Georg Lukács called "false consciousness": they don't even know they're being exploited! On another level, they are the salt of the earth.
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.
Structuralist critique of false institutions may therefore have to be complemented by a renewed culturalist critique of false consciousness
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.
Marx never invoked an implicitly moral notion, such as that of false consciousness (as later employed by Lukács and others), just as he never spoke of proletarian ideology or class consciousness