Fifth Dimension

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Afterthought on Adorno’s Culture Industry: Conclusion

Posted by fifthdimension on March 31, 2007

Many of Adorno’s critics maintain that the products of mass culture cannot be popular unless people enjoy them, and that culture determines its own administration. This would be tantamount to denying Adorno any contemporary political significance, considering that in prosperous societies politics is not concerned with thought but with action. It is seen that many young generation of media theorists ignore Adorno’s work which, to some extent, is the result of Adorno’s inability to draw practical conclusions from his theories. Some even accuse him of inconsistency in his claims of implementing Marxism. This is mainly because he accepted the classical Marxist analysis of society while explaining how one class dominates the weaker, but he digressed from Marx in his failure to use dialectic as a method to propose ways to change. Instead, Adorno and Horkheimer developed the concept that the culture industry has rendered the masses incapable of revolutionary movement.

In spite of these shortfalls, Adorno’s critique has inspired new research and influenced subsequent intellectual discourses on culture studies. The critique is essentially a theory of the characteristics attributed to the cultural product and its evaluation at a befitting level of discourse. The importance of Adorno’s theory, in today’s context, is quite apparent given that the analysis of “mass culture”, “mass society”, and things like that has proven inadequate, and that there is a significant rise in the manipulative power of cultural industry. Indeed, all theories are subject to varied interpretations. For instance, there may be diverse views to the concepts like whether culture mirrors society or it shapes society. Proponents of each view will forward their own arguments with a plethora of examples and evidences. Hence, the dichotomy prevails, and so is the case with Adorno. However, the fact remains that Adorno’s critique has given a valid point of departure for further studies and research on the ‘culture industry’.


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