Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Frankfurt School: summary

         Frankfurt school is not a place
         It is a school of thought
         It is a group of similar theories that focus on the same topic
         The scholars that made up the Frankfurt school were all directly, or indirectly associated with a place called the Institute of Social Research
         The nickname of the thinkers, originates in the location of the institute, Frankfurt Germany
         The "Frankfurt School" refers to a group of German-American theorists who developed powerful analyses of the changes in Western capitalist societies that occurred since the classical theory of Marx

         Prominent theorists within this school of thought are: Max Horkheimer,T.W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Lowenthal, and Erich Fromm
         Each of these philosophers believed, and shared Karl Marx’s theory of Historical Materialism
         Each member of the Frankfurt school adjusted Marxism with his additions, or "fix“.
         Then, they used the "fixed" Marxist theory as a measure modern society needed to meet
         These ideas came to be known as "Critical Theory"
Note: Remember Marxist Theory
         Developed by Karl Marx in the 19th century. 
         Argues that hierarchical class system is at the root of all social problems and must be ended by a revolution of the workers.
         Dominant classes directly control the means of production (labor, factories and land), which is called the base of society.
         Rulling classes also control the culture, which is called the superstructure of society. Therefore, the dominant ideology of a society is the ideology of rulling class.
         Base: the means of production
         Superstructure: a society’s culture
         Ideology: ideas present in a culture that mislead average people and encourage them to act against their own interests
The Neo-Marxist Approach: Frankfurt School
         The Marxist approach to the media studies developed in parallel with the functionalist approach. It is best characterized by the work of the Frankfurt School founded in 1923.
         The school was concerned with developing a revolutionary, philosophical variant of Western Marxism, opposed to capitalism in the west and Stalinism in the East, which came to be called critical theory.
         In 1930s when Hitler came to power, the Institute was forced to leave Germany for New York.
         In 1953 it was re-established in Frankfurt.
         Adorno and Horkheimer developed a Marxist sociological approach to media studies. They saw the media as a cultural industry that maintained power relations and served to lessen the ‘resistance standards’ of cultural aesthetics by popularizing certain types of culture.

         They produced some of the first accounts within critical social theory of the importance of mass culture and communication in social reproduction and domination.
         They generated one of the first ,modes of a critical cultural studies that analyzes the processes of cultural production and political economy, the politics of cultural texts, and audience reception and use of cultural artifacts (Kellner 1989 and 1995) 
         Frankfurt school developed a critical and transdisciplinary approach to cultural studies and communications studies, combining political economy, textual analysis, and analysis of social and ideological effects

The contribution of the Frankfurt School
         Frankfurt school made historical materialism a centerpiece in social theory
         It forced Marxist ideology to broaden its scope
         While Marx said, "This is historical materialism, and this is what it does”
         The Frankfurt School said, "This is historical materialism; this is what’s right with it, this is what’s wrong with it, and this is how it works” 

         The Frankfurt school also had it’s own effects on philosophy as a whole
         It affected philosophy by preserving the notion of meta-analysis of society through its economic, political, and social systems
         It introduced the notion of social philosophy and made theory part of everyday practice by "mixing" philosophical problems, and empirical problems 

See: One Dimensional man / Herbert Marcuse