Saturday, 14 April 2012

Review of The Culture Industry

The Culture Industry by Theodor Adorno
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 time. Further, there is a bizarre detour into a Freudian analysis of Hitler's regime (which like all psychoanalysis is bunk and pseudoscience). He argues quite forcefully and well (on the whole) though that the 'culture industry' that produces what we might call 'mass culture' systematically attempts to manipulate the masses into passivity and to make them accept their economic conditions. I found the book a good intellectual exercise and did certainly agree with some of his analysis (for example the distinction between 'free time' and actual hobbies in a leisure class society etc). On the whole though, I am troubled by the lack of nuance- is all TV really that evil?

Dan Gibbons is a 3rd year Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) student at the University of Melbourne. He has a forthcoming publication in Intergraph: A Journal of Dialogic Anthropology (about memory and nationalism) and is currently submitting papers on the rise of modern consumerism, the role of criminology theory in literary criticism and the institutional theory of nationalism. Dan is a keen debater and public speaker.

No comments:

Post a Comment