Central to Adorno's view of art is his distinction between Salary and Function , which makes his sociology of art different from both hermeneutic and empirical approaches. Where a hermeneutic approach typically emphasizes the artwork's meaning and cultural significance and downplays the work's political and / or economic role, an empirical approach typically focuses on the interplay between the work and various social factors and therefore ignores questions about. the meaning layer of the work. Adorno's grip lies in uniting these two analytical strategies. He argues that the content and function of the workshould be understood in relation to each other.
Based on Adorno's view of the autonomy of modern art and what he sees as an important change in the nature of capitalism , Adorno is highly critical of the role that political art can play. Adorno believes that political art has problems with both efficiency and legitimacy in late capitalism. At the same time, however, he believes that political art can act as a form of corrective to what he saw as a failed aestheticism in very popular art. Adorno believes that in late capitalism, the best political art is able to work through its own inner contradictions in a way that the hidden inner contradictions in society can no longer be ignored. For Adorno, Samuel Beckett's are playsa good example of this. For Adorno, Beckett's pieces are more true than much other art. Adorno believes that all works of art have a content by virtue of an inner dialectical opposition between its form and content and to understand this dynamic one must therefore understand both the work's inner dynamics and the dynamics at stake in the work's social-historical context.