|What is Cultural Reproduction? The Culture Industry|
With Max Horkheimer, wrote Dialectic of Enlightenment, from which the classical denunciation of the culture industry, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," comes.
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer used the term culture industry to argue that cultural items (such as music, books, television and films, radio) were similar to other manufactured consumer goods. All products were produced with the aim of making profit, and co-ordinated along rationalised organisational principles.
Adorno and Horkheimer linked the idea of the culture industry to a model of mass culture. Mass culture means that consumption is standardised and passive. This type of consumption is homogeneous and vulgar: mass taste. Adorno and Horkheimer argue that the production and distribution of homogeneous culture dominates and manipulates people. click here
They make three points:
1. economic concentration of culture production in a
capitalist industry results in a standardised commercial commodity;
The structures of economic ownership and control of the means of production directly shapes the activities of creative artists and consumers.
Two additional concepts are further analysed.
1. Standardisation: All products produced by the culture industry exhibit standardised features. There is nothing spontaneous about the process of cultural production, it has become like an assembly-line. Pop songs, hit films and best-sellers books are produced using strict formulae, ensuring that they are commercially successful.
Through the combination of standardization and pseudo-individuality, Adorno and Horkheimer suggest that cultural products provide mere distraction and prevent people from reflecting on their own social and class position in the world.
This results in regressive consumption that pacifies and controls consumers. This type of consumption does provide a temporary escape from the boredom of work. click here
People become a mass and are easily manipulated by capitalist corporations and authoritarian governments.
Critique of Culture Industry Thesis (Bernard Miège):
1. Attachment to a limitid and rigid idea of artistic creation which results in a distrust for technology and artistic creation;
2. Reference to a culture industry -- singular -- misleads one into thinking we are faced with a unified field where various elements function as parts of the same process;
3. Adorno and Horkheimer are more interested in markets than in an industry.
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