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Lecture 4

COMM 2100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Fetishism, Consumerism


Department
Communication Studies
Course Code
COMM 2100
Professor
Ira Wagman
Lecture
4

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COMM 2101 10/03/2013
Frankfurt School
Theory Journal
No explanations but concepts applied to everyday life
Two paragraphs
Example:
Kitchen fight b/w two people
Conflict and new understanding, seen on media etc.
Frankfurt Critical Theory
Goal/purpose
Context for introduction?
Key theorists?
Key concepts
Criticisms/limitations?
Background
“Institut fur Sozialforschung” (Institute for Social Research) opened in Germany 1923
Affiliated with university of Frankfurt

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Took a Neo Marxist approach with taking the theory and the Marxism and expanding it
Coined the term “Critical Theory”
They also applied social psychology, looking to understand the relationship between individuals in
society.
The concern they had was the rise of fascism in Europe. Nazism was on the rise and they
wondered why people were accepting it.
Jewish people were stereotyped and Jewish scholars were in danger and were forced to migrate to
America or Europe
Went to Columbia
America was more into the ideas of capitalism. Greater outward influence of capitalism and
consumerism because people just accepted this era they were not reluctant to it.
Naturalization of consumerism, technology and popular culture. Frankfurt of acceptance of
capitalism and consumerism was the rise to fascism in Europe.
Key concepts
the key questions they were asking in their researching was that they took a critical analysis of mass
communication and devices
Critical analysis: understand the process and the condition by which we got the state to which we
are in today and uncover whose agenda it serves.
Mass culture was the material production that was coming out of factories and being sold to people
on a mass level.
All of this mass production was influencing the corporate elite. They looked at the cultural societal
political relations.
Influence on media audiences

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Ultimate goal was to uncover what they saw was the totalitarian (domination) control in media and
cultural production to encourage change/action.
Frankfurt School wanted to show this was happening to people so that they would realize that they
are getting advantage of and no equal opportunity for them in this new society.
Two primary focuses:
1. Looking at historical condition and how mass culture emerged and proliferated
2. How these culture industries that give us the activities and the entities that make us feel socially
good (movies, bars etc.) How they refine or underscore this capitalist thing?
It should be separate from making money and taking advantage of people.
Reification of capitalism in culture industries
Approach
Show the relationship between the individual and the material condition
Situate what was happening in the society in the historical context
Taking in the consideration
Economic processes (Marxism) and also psychic structures of individuals (how
people thought about these economic processes that were happening)
Totality of the system
The other approach
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