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Lecture 3

SOCY 226 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Theodor W. Adorno, Frankfurt School, Culture Industry

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

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SOCY 226 The Culture Industry
The Rise of Fascism
o Counter Revolution + Authoritarian Capitalism
o Futurism: Militarism, Brutalism, Force, Patriotism
o Nazism: Racism, anti-Semitism, Destiny, Violence
What is Critical About Critical Theory?
o Failed Revolutions and Fascism
o Key Thinks and Ideas
o What has happened to Enlightenment Reason?
o Liberation and Domination
o Technological Rationality
Instrumental Reason
o Reification revisited
o Instrumental Thinking
o Fact and Value
o Critique of Positivism
o Negative Dialectics
The Culture Industry
o Why Take Culture Seriously?
o Conformism and Amusement
Cultural Reproduction
o Mass Reproduction of Culture
o Aura and Democratization
o One-Dimensional Societies
o False Needs and Repression
Conclusions: There must be some way out of here?
Context: The Rise of Fascism
The futurist movement foreshadowed fascism in Italy. Initially a literally
movement inspired by Bergson and Nietzsche, it found its clearest
expression in painting and sculpture
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, and then consolidating a one-party
fascist stated 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 German militarism, authoritarianism and cultural
elitism. Its chief characteristic was deeply rooted racism and anti-Semitism:
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o Nazi ideology contained these forms of elitism but also a theory of the
o The Nazi movement had many supporters
Adorno and (orkheimer 19 ask ..Why Mankind, instead of
entering into a truly human condition, is sinking into a new
kind of barbarism
What is Critical about Critical Theory?
What is Critical Theory?
o The Frankfurt School leading German, neo-Marxist intellectuals
reforming Marxism by incorporating sociology, economics, politics,
and psychoanalysis to understand modernity
o Totalitarianism and bureaucracy
o What has happened to the promises of the enlightenment reason?
o Why no class-consciousness and class revolution?
Explorations of the dark side of modernity
o (ow enlightenment reason became pathological, denying freedom
o (ow instrumental reason dominates nature
o Advance in capitalism and consumer society are totally
o Society increasing has control over personal domain
o Contemporary society is one-dimensional
Instrumental Reason
o A way of looking at the world
Resources for us to use
o A way of looking at theoretical knowledge
The usefulness of the knowledge
Instrumental Reason
o Separation of fact and value
Scientific knowledge can make technologies that could be used
for making death more efficient
o Dominant way of thinking in the modern world
Idea of Value free science
o Instrumental reasoning (doing versus thinking)
Western societies are already totalities totalitarian to be opposed
through escaping the totality, not seeking it
Theodore Adorno on Popular Culture
The culture industry is a form of totalitarianism (commercial brainwashing)
Culture Industry = Endless mass-produced copies of the same thing
o Continuous fast food commercials
o Images of body weight (lose weight fast)
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