Culture Industry Reconsidered

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The Fran k furt Sdwo l wns founded 0 11 two phi losophica I bases: first, on the traditions established from Ka ntian critica I philoso phy; and second, by Marxian attitudes to ideology the subplots behind his tOI"ica l events , restated by George Lukacs, whose enduring influence pre vni lcd over the in stitute.

3.3 Music and culture industry: An introduction to Adorno

Arato and Gebhardt ! Whi le this duality was noted by the Frankfurt School theorists in general, they were predominantly focused on culture in the former sense, and it was up to tltree theorists in particular to probe the specificity of culture within a Marxian il'llm ework, namely Max Horkheimer, Theodore Adorno and Walter Benjamin.

In opposition to the 'high art' of painting, sculpture, lllusic a nd literature, Adorno's primary interest was in the relationship between th l.! I'X II:dity, the disabled and other key social issues.

Culture Industry Reconsidered

He says that the culture industry instead merges the old and familiar into a new quality and all its products are tailored for consumption by the masses and manufactured according to a plan. Further, it forces together high and low art to the detriment of both.

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So, cultural entities in the culture industry are no longer also commodities, but they are commodities. With reference to cinema as a central sector of the culture industry, he says that although its production process may involve division of labour and there may be a conflict between artists and the industry that controls them, there still exists an individual form of production.


But for Adorno, this individuality serves to reinforce ideology. For instance in the rationalization of office work rather that anything being really produced. There is no inner logic to the technique of the industry except for that of distribution and mechanical reproduction which always remains external.

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He thinks even though something touches a large number of lives, it is no guarantee of its quality and hence it would be required to take it seriously in a critical way. It is common for some intellectuals to simultaneously keep reservations against it and respect its power. For them products like pocket novels, family television shows or even horoscope columns are harmless and even democratic because it responds to a demand, even if it is a stimulated one. The order that arises from the culture industry is never confronted with what it claims or whether it is in any real interest of human beings, and conformity gets replaced for consciousness behind which lie the most powerful interests.