Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Culture Industry Reconsidered

Theodor Adorno wrote The Culture Industry Reconsidered (1975) from a mid-20th century perspective. In Adorno’s time, popular culture was characterized by homogeneity and sameness. Homogeneity and sameness were cultural values portrayed by the media. The media created the false needs of being cool, rich, beautiful, and smart enough to succeed. Cultural values of the mid-20th century were portrayed again and again by the homogeneity and sameness in themes of television, film, radio, and music. Further, mid-20th century popular culture was controlled by an oligopoly. There were a few large movie studios, TV and radio stations, and record companies that controlled the messages portrayed in the mass media market. As a result, an individual’s exposure to music and culture was limited. Music knowledge was limited to what was played on the local radio station. Cinematic knowledge was limited to what aired in the local theater or television station. As well, knowledge of art was limited to what was studied in school, read in books, or seen at the local art museum.

How do you contrast mass media from a mid-20th century and 21st century perspective? Are Adorno’s theories on culture relative today?

Appelrouth, S., and Edles, L. (2008). Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory. California: Pine Forge Press.

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