Notes on Critical Theory.docx

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Department
Media, Information and Technoculture
Course
Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G
Professor
Alison Hearn
Semester
Spring

Description
WEEK 3 CULTURAL THEORYOn Popular MusicTheodore AdornoChapter 4 Marxisms StoreyCritical Theory A theory is critical to the extent that it seeks to liberate humans from the circumstances that enslave them Theory must seek to reveal abuses of power and increase freedom Starts from the assumption that the world as it is is not good enough Believes in human reason and that the world can be changed by peopleThe Frankfurt School for Social Research Mass society critics but with a Marxist radical agenda A group of German intellectuals associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt Worried that mass media kept people from changing the world whereas Arnold and Leavis feared that it would lead to cultural decline Believed that popular culture maintained social authorityKey idea How was mass society preventing the working class from developing a radical revolutionary consciousness Why do people endorse and accept a system that demonstrably operates against their best interestsWhat keeps people complacentabout the way in which they are governed exploited manipulated What is the link between culturemass media and power Wrote against the backdrop of the failure of workers movements and the rise of Hitler and fascism the failure of unions and capitalist free market economic Moved to New York following the rise of HitlerThe Rise of Hitler Disseminated his beliefs through propaganda media and huge spectacles The use of mass media forms the rise of political ideasThe culture and civilization tradition attack mass culture because it threatens cultural standards and social authority whereas the Frankfurt School attack mass culture because it threatens cultural standards and depoliticizes the working classThe Culture IndustryMass Media Mass media forms are tools of domination Promotes the status quo and protect the interests of those in power by telling stories and creating sets of beliefs conditions distractions false comfort and palliation Creates an environment and a set of ideals so that we buyinto these systems The media obscure certain truths and promote others eg Think of the LA Riots example The media plays a propagating role that frames a certain story and leaves out certain truthssuch as poverty race and class Pop culturemass media transmits the values of capital Undermine individual autonomy by increasing the management and control of leisure time We are enculturated to become obedient workers for capitalMarx and Freud What is the psychological impact of life under capitalBreakdown of Traditional Centres of Authority Atomization The breakdown of traditional formsstructures of authority eg Church families schools Mass culture became new socializing agents as people turned to mass culture to fill the void and to find meaning Led to conformity and loss of meaning and the idea of the individual declined
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