The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture

Front Cover
Routledge, 2001 - Philosophy - 210 pages
41 Reviews
The creation of the Frankfurt School of critical theory in the 1920s saw the birth of some of the most exciting and challenging writings of the twentieth century. It is out of this background that the great critic Theodor Adorno emerged. His finest essays are collected here, offering the reader unparalleled insights into Adorno's thoughts on culture. He argued that the culture industry commodified and standardized all art. In turn this suffocated individuality and destroyed critical thinking. At the time, Adorno was accused of everything from overreaction to deranged hysteria by his many detractors. In today's world, where even the least cynical of consumers is aware of the influence of the media, Adorno's work takes on a more immediate significance. The Culture Industry is an unrivalled indictment of the banality of mass culture.

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Review: The Culture Industry (Routledge Classics)

User Review  - Jan - Goodreads

A tough set of essays; real workout for the brain. But can't really complain that it was 'difficult' when the central premise is that capitalist culture patronises consumers with mindless mulch ... Read full review

Review: The Culture Industry (Routledge Classics)

User Review  - Beryl - Goodreads

Though interesting and thought provoking, Adorno & Horkheimer's cultural industry is more an attack on aesthetics of any kind than any other thing. Extremely pessimistic and, as I understand most ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Theodor W. Adorno is the progenitor of critical theory, a central figure in aesthetics, and the century's foremost philosopher of music. He was born and educated in Frankfurt, Germany. After completing his Ph.D. in philosophy, he went to Vienna, where he studied composition with Alban Berg. He soon was bitterly disappointed with his own lack of talent and turned to musicology. In 1928 Adorno returned to Frankfurt to join the Institute for Social Research, commonly known as The Frankfurt School. At first a privately endowed center for Marxist studies, the school was merged with Frankfort's university under Adorno's directorship in the 1950s. As a refugee from Nazi Germany during World War II, Adorno lived for several years in Los Angeles before returning to Frankfurt. Much of his most significant work was produced at that time. Critics find Adorno's aesthetics to be rich in insight, even when they disagree with its broad conclusions. Although Adorno was hostile to jazz and popular music, he advanced the cause of contemporary music by writing seminal studies of many key composers. To the distress of some of his admirers, he remained pessimistic about the prospects for art in mass society. Adorno was a neo-Marxist who believed that the only hope for democracy was to be found in an interpretation of Marxism opposed to both positivism and dogmatic materialism. His opposition to positivisim and advocacy of a method of dialectics grounded in critical rationalism propelled him into intellectual conflict with Georg Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Heideggerian hermeneutics.

J. M. Bernstein is University Distinguished Professor in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukacs, Marxism, and the Dialectics of Form (1984).

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