Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Theodor Adorno - culture industry reconsidered - summary

In "Culture Industry Reconsidered" Theodor Adorno discusses the Frankfurt School concept of the culture industry and its applications in media. The idea and concept of culture industry was formulated by Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their book "Dialectic of Enlightenment"

 under the chapter  "Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception".  According to Adorno media content is adapted to mass consumption. Content is presented in an ordered fashion and time table, in order to appeal to the largest portion of the public. In order to achieve its appeal, mass media combines high and low culture and mixes the boundaries between them. Masses according to Adorno are perceived by the culture industry as objects for calculation. The consumer is certain that media is adapted to his needs while in fact the culture industry produces this sentiment in order to strengthen its influence. "the voice of the master" – the rulers of the culture industry – transmits humiliating content to the public that all have to do with the ruling ideology, with little critical resistance by the masses.

According to Adorno in "Culture Industry Reconsidered" the culture industry's interest is to preserve its affinity to the narrowing cycle of capital as its source of living. For Adorno, media's influence, its lack of objectivity and monopoly should not be taken lightly. The culture industry gives the illusion of being informed and involved, while in reality the consumer of mass meida is being reduced to minding himself with his own petty matters.
According to Adorno the public refrains from criticizing the media because they are dependent upon it. They need the culture industry in order to achieve pleasure and satisfaction and cannot imaging their lives without it.

The culture industry preserves its power by presenting "the good life" as reality and through false conflicts that trade him for his real ones. The culture industry according to Adorno spreads false values and establish the individual's willingness to be a part of society and to coordinate his interests with it, as they are portrayed by the culture industry. The culture industry takes advantage of the weaker classes by making its content shallow and widely appealing and thus demoting the value of culture.

Adorno concludes "Culture Industry Reconsidered" with the assertion that the "happiness" produced for the masses by the culture industry is imaginary, it induced people to pursue unachievable dreams and represses all those that can oppose it (what Adorno calls "mass deception").

Worth reading: