The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (Routledge Classics)

The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (Routledge Classics)

Theodor W. Adorno

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0415253802

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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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amused. With the same justice, it can be asked whom music for entertainment still entertains. Rather, it seems to complement the reduction of people to silence, the dying out of speech as expression, the inability to communicate at all. It inhabits the pockets of silence that develop between people moulded by anxiety, work and undemanding docility. Everywhere it takes over, unnoticed, the deadly sad role that fell to it in the time and the specific situation of the silent films. It is perceived

will reduce the cost, or the composers are accused of lacking technique in instrumentation. These reasons are lamentable pretexts. The argument of cheapness, which aesthetically condemns itself, is disposed of by reference to the superfluity of orchestral means at the disposal of precisely those who most eagerly carry on the practice of arrangement, and by the fact that very often, as in instrumental arrangements of piano pieces, the arrangements turn out substantially dearer than performance in

another like two fragments of a broken world which have been welded together, one might almost say welded together like the bourgeois world and art itself. Today the life of both is at stake as they draw ever closer together. The hero no longer makes any sacrifices but now enjoys success. He does not come of age and assume freedom through his deeds for his career is simply the revelation of his conformity. Thus he is the intriguer who has ‘arrived’, whose confiscated appearance reveals itself

our expectations into a definite direction. If we had never seen anything but ‘Dante’s Inferno’, we probably would not be sure about what was going to happen; but, as it is, we are actually given to understand by both subtle and not so subtle devices that this is a crime play, that we are entitled to expect some sinister and probably hideous and sadistic deeds of violence, that the hero will be saved from a situation from which he can hardly be expected to be saved, that the woman on the

But in view of the cultural and pedagogical problem presented by television, we do not think that the novelty of the specific findings should be a primary concern. We know from psychoanalysis that the reasoning, ‘But we know all this!’ is often a defence. This defence is made in order to dismiss insights as irrelevant because they are actually uncomfortable and make life more difficult for us than it already is by shaking our conscience when we are supposed to enjoy the ‘simple pleasures of

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