Adorno on Popular Culture

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Psychology Press, 2003 - Philosophy - 200 pages
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In the decades since his death, Adorno's thinking has lost none of its capacity to unsettle the settled, and has proved hugely influential in social and cultural thought. To most people, the entertainment provided by television, radio, film, newspapers, astrology charts and CD players seem harmless enough. For Adorno, however, the culture industry that produces them is ultimately toxic in its effect on the social process. He argues that it manufactures under conditions that reflect the interests of the producers and the market, both of which demanded the domination and manipulation of mass consciousness. Here Robert W. Witkin unpacks Adorno's notoriously difficult critique of popular culture in an accessible style, looking first at the development of the overarching theories of authority, commodification and negative dialectics within which Adorno's work needs to be seen. He then goes on to consider Adorno's writing on specific aspects of popular culture such as radio, film, popular music and jazz. This book should be of interest to students of the sociology of culture, of cultural studies and of critical theory more generally.
 

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Contents

Cultural nemesis
1
The theory of pseudoculture
16
The Dialectic of Enlightenment and The Ring of the Nibelungen
33
The decay of aura and the schema of mass culture
50
Star power
68
Situating music socially
83
On popular music
98
Adornos radio days
116
Film and television
135
Woody Allens culture industry
151
Walking a critical line home
170
References
188
Index
191
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About the author (2003)

Robert Witkin is Professor of Sociology at the University of Exeter

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