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A commentary on this passage from Theodor Adorno’s essay ‘The Culture Industry Reconsidered.’

2021-10-08 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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1 Introduction

Cultural industry is developing rapidly and extensively. It affects people's production and life directly or indirectly. Adorno's theory of cultural industry is an important resource for contemporary cultural studies. This paper analyze the social, economic and cultural background of Adorno's theory of cultural industry. Based on the industrial-market economy, the managed world, the fascism of Germany and the mass culture of the United States, this paper analysis the concept and characteristics of culture industry and the ignorant mass, and give comments on this passage within the context of Culture Industry Reconsidered.

2 Content

2.1 Views on this passage within the context of Adorno’s ‘Culture Industry Reconsidered’

The concept of "cultural industry" proposed by Adorno is undoubtedly has theoretical value, but it also has certain limitations of The Times.

According to the explanation of Adorno, Culture industry instead of Mass Culture is to reject the culture which was from the masses. Adorno mainly criticized the excessive commercialization of mass culture in the context of capitalism at that time and ignored the spiritual value of culture itself. He pointed out the cultural consumerism tendency of capitalist society at that time, and believed that the commercialization, standardization and technology of cultural products hindered the further development of culture. (Adorno, 1999,198)

However, to some extent, cultural industry is necessary for cultural development. Adorno failed to view the cultural industry from the perspective of development, and believed that the public is a vulgar group without thinking and judgment. He excessively underestimated the active role of audience and neglected the public acceptance. Especially in the process of globalization, cultural soft power has play an important role on national comprehensive power competition. Therefore, we should make a concrete analysis of the "cultural industry" and explore the correct direction of the development of the cultural industry.

  

2.2 Historical and social background

In the 1920s, with the failure of the European workers' movement and the rise of fascism on the political stage, the western socialist revolution fell into the historical low tide. With the development of science and technology and the growth of economy,  monopoly capitalist began to rule the market. The Frankfurt school made an in-depth analysis of the capitalist ideology which caused the loss of people's critical ideology. (Rolf Vogelhaus, 2010,262-263) Adorno and other representatives sharply criticized capitalism for conducting regular cultural standardization and ideological control to the public, revealing the defects and disadvantages of mass culture under the capitalist cultural industry system. In the middle period of the 20th century, the United States was the first country to enter the post-industrial society. Manufacturing economy was turned into service economy, and popularization became the main stream of cultural development. The theorists of the Frankfurt school reawakened people's critical consciousness and judgement by deeply studying the problems of mass culture.

 

2.3 The key concepts and central argument of the passage

The central argument of the passage is the negative effects of the culture industry and the lose of leading place on the public. As far as I am concerned, the culture industry  which is  known by common people must be distinguished with mass culture.

The key concepts: In Adorno's opinion, capitalist countries excessively cater to consumers for the sake of economic development, and the culture develops towards the direction of increasing vulgarity and assimilation, and the culture gradually loses its positive effects for human's spiritual food.

Adorno criticized the "cultural industry" because he saw that rulers controlling their thoughts through "top-down" consumption, as a result, the mass become unconscious gradually. Adorno emphasized that the culture industry become a tool to manage human consciousness.(Mark Portus, 2001,16-18)

 

2.4 Theoretical debates inform Adorno’s Argument

The problem of Mass Culture criticism was posed in the letter from Horkeimer to Loewenthal for the first time. As Frankfurt school of thought said, the passage explained simply the essence and viewpoint of Theory of Culture Industry. (Jeff Lewis, 2013,57-58) Some retionales criticized Mass Culture deeply, especially, Theory of Culture Industry became the core to be criticized. The Theory of Culture Industry provided a critical model which possessed typical significance.

 

2.5 Other critics’ opinion on Adorno’s ideas

Influenced by Stanley Hall and Gramsci, John Fiske think that Mass Culture is the re-creation of the cultural goods or texts of discourse hegemony to audience. He pointed out that "popular culture is created by people who are in subordinate positions to obtain their own interests from those resources, which, on the other hand, serve the economic interests of the rulers. According to the opinions of mass culture theorists, Mass Culture is created from the people in the bottom strata, not from the outside and the top. (John Fiske, 2001,2-3)

Adorno insists that the external environment in which mass culture constitutes the public is imposed on the public by a dominant force.It is also believed that culture industry is basically a synonym of mass culture in the critical theory of the Frankfurt school. All in all, mass culture is a hodgepodge as a whole that is imposed on the masses from the top , so it is a cultural industry.

 

3 Conclusion

It is undeniable that the concept of "cultural industry" proposed by Adorno under the social background at that time indeed have some positive effects which really pose a positive influence to the society in all respects. The emergence of mass culture has a certain historical inevitability, and it is important to take a correct attitude to the current mass culture when dealing with the negative effects brought by the culture industry. Moreover, his studying method combined with philosophical speculation is worth learning. However, the social audience is no longer blindly accept and have no thought in Adorno's eyes. The masses have their own judgment faced various cultural products. The specific background also hinder the further development of his theory, so in contemporary society, we should reinterpret it in a new context.


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