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The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  2,922 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The creation of the Frankfurt School of critical theory in the 1920s saw the birth of some of the most significant writings of the 20th century. It is out of this background that the critic Theodor Adorno emerged. This is a selection of his essays, offering the reader insights into Adorno's thoughts on culture.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 17th 2001 by Routledge (first published January 1st 1947)
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Glenn Russell

You will be hard pressed to find a more scathing, uncompromising indictment of popular culture than The Culture Industry, Essays on Mass Culture by Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969). An accomplished classical pianist, composer and musicologist (he was a friend of composer Arnold Schoenberg) as well as a philosopher and sociologist with a razor-sharp mind, Adorno loathed how commercial interests standardize artistic and aesthetic enjoyment by pressing low-level conformity on an entire population for
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John
How old were you when you realized that the methods and modes that govern Hollywood cultural production are EXACTLY THE SAME as the propaganda machines that power some of the most oppressive totalitarian regimes in human history? I know how old I was. I was twenty-five and this realization came to me, not immanently, but because I read this critical text. Critical theory is exactly what gives voice to suspicions that all intelligent people have, but lack the ability to voice. Whereas some critic ...more
Andrew
I do this weird, masochistic thing whenever I can't make up my mind about an author, or musician, or filmmaker. I go in depth on them. I did it with Saul Bellow, with Lupe Fiasco, and with Lars Von Trier. And now I'm doing it with Adorno. Firstly, what I like about Adorno: his dissection of how culture is produced, his criticism of Enlightenment, the correlations he draws between reproduction and alienation. We're cool. What I dislike about Adorno: his profound elitism, especially the belief tha ...more
Matt
Theodor Adorno is the original hipster, from a time before it was cool to be so. Furthermore, Adorno's work is, by modern standards, racist, sexist, and classist.

Adorno speaks of fetishization and conformity, but his own arguments begin to contradict each other. At the same time that he claims that only "original" art is good art, he vocalizes a very stringent worship of the old classical masters; suggesting in no uncertain terms that no ideal music has been produced since Mozart's "The Magic F
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Hadrian
This is a rather intense series of essays by Adorno on the modern media. His style is both dense with references to Marx and Hegel and pungent in its scorn for media conventions - it's like drinking vinegar.

His cantankerous view of culture begins with modern music, which is loud, repetitive, has a strong beat, and offers little or no technical views or ambiguity to cause serious discussion. He moves from there to television, film, the shaping of thoughts by the radio, and comparisons of films to
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Jimmy
Aug 31, 2008 Jimmy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimmy by: Routledge makes a handsome little paperback.
Adorno is brilliant. The profound aspect of his views on mass culture is the rather postmodern, ironic perspective that he throws on consumer manipulation. For Adorno what is essentially important is not that popular culture is debasing the attention span of the masses, it is the way in which capitalist institutions-say for example, television networks-convince the spectator that they are all too aware of what low brow art really is. In turn this assures people that it is okay to patronize cheap ...more
John David
More a collection of related essays and less a book with a coherent, unified message, this is a set of nine essays on a variety of topics. I’ll list them here just to give the reader some idea of the vast area these essays cover. They are “On the Fetish Character in Music and the Regression of Listening,” “The Schema of Mass Culture,” “Culture Industry Reconsidered,” “Culture and Administration,” “Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda,” “How to Look at Television,” “Transparencie ...more
Ryan
Sep 08, 2007 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: capitalists
dear reader,

welcome! welcome, friend, to this week's review of "did you say CULTURE INDUSTRY?" by theodore "california dreamin'" adorno! please enjoy!


REVIEW:

written in 1940's. maybe.
capitalism gives birth to corporations, mass media.
they create false needs.
we have true needs: freedom, independence, happiness.
they say: fuck that shit, $$$$.
population consumes false needs, becoming passive.
you buy fancy clothes, fancy car, nice home, body wash, makeup, cologne, go to hollywood movies, sign up for
...more
Meghan
I don't know what Marx had to say about the arts, but Adorno can be his spokesperson. Overall, Adorno is spot-on about how commodification of public goods, like the arts, has destroyed them in large part. He blames the market for fetishizing favorite tunes and celebrities, without regard for 'quality'. I already blamed the market and technology for the downfall of all things good, so I'm with him there.

But, I have never had such a love-hate relationship with an author. He makes me want to wring
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Alex
This book is great and all, but Adorno loses points for being a curmudgeon.
Gizem Kendik
Adorno Selamlar,

Seninle Uluslararası İlişkiler zamanı Eleştirel Kuram, Frankfurt Okulu’nda şeyyapmıştık. Uluslararası İlişkilerde sana çok yer vermiyorlar söylemem lazım. Ben kültür endüstirisine şimdi gelebildim. İlla ama illa kültürün sistematiğini, sahteliğini çözecem diyenlerin kaynak metinlerindensin. Sanırım Türkiye’de radyo televizyon, iletişim, sanat tarihi ve marxisim çalışmalarında biraz daha fazla itibarın var.

Horkheimer ile 1947’de ortaya attığın kültür endüstrisinin üzerine çok şey
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Dan Gibbons
Apart from the bizarre detour into a Freudian analysis of Hitler's regime (which like all psychoanalysis is bunk and pseudoscience), this book provides a generally interesting analysis of the workings of the ways culture has been transformed by the arrival of capitalism. I happen to not agree with many of Adorno's conclusions because I find the Frankfurt School's style of neo-Marxism to be not especially good criticism and I find that Adorno substitutes personal taste for analysis a lot of the t ...more
Lauringui
Si bien a veces los dos pueden sonar medios fatalistas y pesimistas, todo lo que describe es increíblemente iluminado para la época si tenemos en cuenta cuándo se escribió.
Trata sobre cómo los medios de comunicación convirtieron en industria a la cultura todo y describe todas las bases que tienen para dominar a las masas.
No de lo más iluminado (teniendo en cuenta críticas o despliegues como los de Flaubert o Baudelaire) pero es una perspectiva crítica interesante que vale la pena leer.
Jan
A tough set of essays; real workout for the brain. But can't really complain that it was 'difficult' when the central premise is that capitalist culture patronises consumers with mindless mulch. Biting, insightful stuff, had me reaching for a dictionary every other page. Like a proper run, not to be attempted with a hangover.
Dr. A
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Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.BestPhilosophyBooks.org (a thinkPhilosophy Production).
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The Culture Industry is an unrivalled indictment of the banality of mass culture. A volume of Adorno's essays is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature.” 
–Susan Sontag

One of the best know thinkers emerging from the Frankfurt School of critical theory, Theodor Adorno's The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture is the best c
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Beryl
Though interesting and thought provoking, Adorno & Horkheimer's cultural industry is more an attack on aesthetics of any kind than any other thing. Extremely pessimistic and, as I understand most ultra Marxists theories, with nothing to offer as a "solution". And this is not said by a "righty capitalist" reader.
For sure, this book is quite complicated and not easy to gulp down at one reading. It shows some critical enlightening moments, but overall is another pessimistic view of more than j
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M Pereira
I've taken months to read this collection of essays, partly because life has been busy for me, but also because this is a very heavy work of social thinking. Adorno writes on a variety of topics, many of which are systematically inter-related (the exact relata is a matter for closer exegesis).

Adorno writes on the culture of his time, and tries to underpine a theoretical base to what he observes, this involves a mix of Marxism, Freudian theory, empirical work on mass culture, his own sometimes t
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Gaelan D'costa
A lot of Adorno's musings on the culture industry and the mass production of culture gained through industrialization, on the contradictory and blurred opposition between 'serious' and 'popular' art, are so embedded into culture itself that much of this book feels obvious. One thing I'm really glad to now appreciate is that Adorno wasn't simply critiquing a status quo but also went into how that status quo, or an aspect of it, is actually necessary for the 'progressive' oppositions to exist and ...more
Whitman
We exist in a pseudo-reality where the commoditization of everything is to serve the growth-at-all-costs ethos. But we are completely oblivious to it. We are consumer drones; technologically saturated but emotionally empty, socially handicapped. The lives that we live that we naturally assume to be our own are socially constructed. They consist primarily of mediated entertainment that tell us what we need, what we want to be, who we are. They nurture the false consciousness that eases us to slee ...more
ValeriZentsov
Not an enjoyable book. Not a very accessible book. Not a very persuasive book. Not a very informative book.

The rambling, contradictory, bitter, and often rather uninformed and outdated collection of essays was disappointing.

Yes, we all know that modern culture has shorcomings.

No, we do not want to hear about it in such rambling and incoherent terms.
Matthewaqq
The perfect similarity is the absolute difference. The identity of thecategory forbids that of the individual cases. Ironically, man as a member of a species has been made areality by the culture industry. Now any person signifies only those attributes by which he can replaceeverybody else: he is interchangeable, a copy. As an individual he is completely expendable and utterlyinsignificant, and this is just what he finds out when time deprives him of this similarity. This changes theinner structure ...more
Marcos Antônio
Explica muita coisa sobre a nossa sociedade de consumo desenfreado
eve
Jun 03, 2007 eve rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: budding cultural critics
Sometimes grumpy old men can talk some sense.

"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 purely as background. If nobody can any longer s
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Naomi
I was completely ready to be hit with Adorno when I did. While he seemed to be thoroughly one-eyed, and polemical, I thought he made many many salient observations. I can't say, having had time to be un-enthralled by his myopic gaze, that he is entirely correct but my god there are times when I see something on tv or hear discussions about this program or that, that I am forcefully reminded of his arguements about the culture machine and its function.
Graham
"Free Time" is the best essay.
Charlie Bryan
Interesting insight into culture & popularity. Great stuff to think about. Long live the weird.
Shawn
This is such an impressive collection of essays. The essay "Free Time" is possibly one of the best I have read in a very long time. Adorno's writing is a challenge, but it is rewarding. I would recommend Fredric Jameson's "Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture" as a follow-up essay. It lends clarity to much of Adorno's argument; as well as lending History.
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Wonderful. Had some weird fucked up nightmares reading this book, but what i was able to grasp got me thinking and that's awesome! I really appreciate his critiques on music and free time. Very cool stuff. His critiques of mass culture and its relation to fascism is really great. I highly recommend it--anything you can get from Adorno is worthwhile.
Adam
The essays in this book are nearly incomprehensible. Adorno writes paragraphs that take up pages and are filled with nothing. I couldn't identify a single argument or position with respect to whatever Adorno is questioning. If you are interested in Frankfurt School style Critical Theory then I suggest you read Marcuse.
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Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was one of the most important philosophers and social critics in Germany after World War II. Although less well known among anglophone philosophers than his contemporary Hans-Georg Gadamer, Adorno had even greater influence on scholars and intellectuals in postwar Germany. In the 1960s he was the most prominent challenger to both Sir Karl Popper's philosophy of science a ...more
More about Theodor W. Adorno...
Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments Minima Moralia Aesthetic Theory Aesthetics and Politics Negative Dialectics

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“Illusory universality is the universality of the art of the culture industry, it is the universality of the homogeneous same, an art which no longer even promises happiness but only provides easy amusement as relief from labour.” 3 likes
“Reduzidas a pura homenagem, as obras de arte pervertidas e corruptas são secretamente empurradas pelos beneficiados para o meio dos trastes, com os quais são assimiladas. Os consumidores podem se alegrar que haja tanta coisa para ver e ouvir. Praticamente pode-se ter tudo.” 0 likes
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