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Lecture 7

CS203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Elitism, Political Question, Culture Industry

Communication Studies
Course Code
Greigory De Peuter

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1. The culture industry thesis
Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno
oFrankfurt school of critical theory
oUniversity of Frankfurt
oInvestigate the kinks between the capitalist economy,
the individual, and the cultural realm
oTwo of the most prominent figures in the Frankfurt
school tradition
oGerman/Jewish figures
oTheodor: Marxist and Musicologist
Privileged background
oSaw enormous potential in the development in
knowledgr and creativity, but at the same time, they
saw the rise of big entertainment industries, political
propaganda, marketing, celebrities etc
oMost concerning were the political developments
oIf modern technologies in science are supposed to
liberate people, yet looked to Adorn and H as
Used for purposes of control
Enlightenment as mass deception
oAs Jews, many of the Frankfurt school fled
Went to America
Saw the same technologies being used to
distribute commercial culture
Concerned about the direction culture was going
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“The Culture Industry”
oelitist theory
osuggests that all of us are duped or distracted from our
own exploitation by capitalist mass culture
osuggests that industrialization of cultural production
serves to reproduce the dominant social order
oa) reduces culture to commodity
culture on the one hand and economy on the
other were not separate spheres at all to Adorno
and H
a deepening merging of both
culture seemed to be thoroughly commodified
the means to an end of profit
culture industry refers to the swallowing of
cultures by the requirement of the market
ob) serves corporate industries
term mass culture incorrectly assumes culture
arises spontaneously from “the people”
because it arises not from the people, but
from corporations
culture is the “instrumental” product of capitalist
corporations interested only in serving their own
narrow economic interests
culture as a means to and end of profit
sees cultural goods as tools of corporate power
oc) Standardizes cultural production
concerned with the way in which culture was
imprinted by the factory assembly line
concerned with this assembly line logic does to
what happens to culture when it’s controlled by
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