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Lecture 4

SOCY 226 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Antonio Gramsci, Mind Control, Katy Perry

Social Sci, Edu and Soc Work - Sociology
Course Code
SOCY 226
Ryan Martin

of 5
SOCY226 Lecture 4 Notes
-No tutorial next week
Context: The Rise of Fascism
-The futurist movement foreshadowed fascism in Italy. Initially a literary movement
inspired by Bergson and Nietzsche, it found its clearest expression in painting and
-Mussolini (1883-1945) led the fascist movement in Italy, as the property- owning elites
turned away from democratic politics in their efforts to defend private property in the
face of class struggle and rebellion
-Mussolini was declared premier in 1922, then consolidating a one-party fascist state by
1925. The fascist government controlled the press, courts, and the economy, pursuing
military adventures in an effort to stimulate the economy during the depression
Context: Nazism
-Fascism in Germany took a different, more virulent and brutal form in Nazism. Its roots
were in German militarism, authoritarianism and cultural elitism. Its chief characteristic
was deeply rooted racism and anti-Semitism
-Nazi ideology contained these forms of elitism but also a theory of the masses
-The Nazi movement had many supporters...
Adorno and Horkheimer (1944) asked
-‘...Why Mankind, instead of entering into a truly human condition, is sinking into a new
kind of barbarism
What it critical about critical theory?
-What is Critical Theory?
The Frankfurt School – leading German neo-Marxist intellectuals – reforming
Marxism by incorporating sociology, economics, politics and psychoanalysis to
understand modernity
Totalitarianism and bureaucracy
What has happened to the promises of enlightenment reason?
Why no class consciousness and class revolution?
-Explorations of the ‘dark side’ of modernity:
How enlightenment ‘reason’ became ‘pathological’, denying freedom
How ‘instrumental reason’ dominates nature
Advanced capitalism and consumer society are ‘totally administered’
oBeing given a new cell phone in which you feel as though you are
navigating your own phone to the people having the access to track you
Society increasing has control over the personal domain
Contemporary society is ‘one-dimensional
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oThe progress of industrialisation and such is now having the opposite
oScience has created really good medicine but also nuclear bombs
Instrumental Reason
1. A way of looking at the world
2. A way of looking at theoretical knowledge
e.g.looking at ‘nature’ in terms of ‘resources for us to use’ (means-end)
e.g. b) looking at knowledge for its ‘usefulness’ (means-end)
-Instrumental Reason:
separation of ‘fact’ and ‘value’ (can vs. should)
onot should we do that but can we do that  we have the technology so we
can do it and then think about what happens after later
othis way of thinking has taken over  things have to be value neutral
e.g. scientific knowledge can make technologies that could be used for making
death more ‘efficient’ (but should it?)
-Idea of ‘value-free’ science = instrumental reason (doing vs. thinking)
-Instrumental reason = dominant way of thinking in the modern world
Not thinking about a beautiful forest as that but simply thinking about the fact that
there are trees in the forest in which you can use
In capitalism this ideology becomes pathological
oWhen you think your at the peak of something and then new technology
comes out and so you have to do that as well just to keep up
o“that’s the way it is” “that’s progress” “that’s how things happen”
-Where does this come from?
Lukacs – reification stems from the development of capitalismAdorno &
Horkheimer – instrumental reason stems from Judeo-Christian thought, becoming
more dominant in The Enlightenment
-How so?
‘instrumentalization of nature’ through science (nature as ‘ours’)
ouse nature as ours its fine the ramifications don’t matter
‘instrumentalization of social relations’ (exploitation and quantification)
oexploitation and going over seas to china to have them make out goods
because they will do it for cheaper  taking advantage
-So what?
Western societies are already ‘totalities’ (as in totalitarian) to be opposed through
escaping the totality, not seeking it
oPopular culture covers everything
Theodore Adorno on popular culture
-The ‘culture industry as an insidious form of totalitarianism (‘commercial
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-Culture Industry = endless mass-produced copies of the same thing
Standardized and that produced conformity
-The Culture Industry is an agency of anti-enlightenment...
Tries to encourage you to not think at all and to conform to the standard of society
Monopoly CapitalismL indusrt-culture-consumer
-Mass cultural products - ‘all mass culture is identical’
Because that’s what they want everything to be because that will in turn make the
mass public gravitate towards the object or thing
-Cultural products don’t have to pretend to be art any more
-They are defined as ‘business’ which in turn justifies the poor quality of their offerings in
terms of market needs and economies of scale
It doesn’t matter how good movies are anymore  its all about how much money
they can then end up making with the movies
Can they make toys to go with the movie? Can they make another movie to make
more money? Can we stretch this out for as long as possible? Make two movies
from one story line?
Art versus Culture?
-The “true are object the mass culture project
For the theorists should make you think about life
Should make you dwell on the more serious topics of life
However because art is now a business we watch other things because that’s what
society wants they want a fun story not something that makes you actually think
about life’s issues
Fake Identity
-When we make distinctions between cultural products (e.g. Rhianna vs. katy perry) these
produce a pseudo-individuality
Society tries to make you feel as though they are different people however the
subject and the songs are very similar
-The culture industry provides us “the freedom to choose what is always the same”
(Adorno and Horkheimer 1947)
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