Adorno and horkheimer 2013v2 students


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  • Using the show the X Factor as a tool to teach Adorno and Horkeimer’s ‘Culture Industry’ Standardization Pseudo-individuality Capitalism Questions/ Discussion for the lesson: What is the purpose of X-Factor? Do they really find someone who has the X-Factor? What are the judges thinking when someone comes to stage/starts to sing? (Commodity status) The act is always thought of as fitting into a box, rather than breaking the mould So do the ‘Culture Industries’ which X-Factor is a part of predict the nature of consumers? Are the ‘masses’ part of the of the ‘assembly-line’ of the Culture Industry?
  • Do the audience control culture production or do industries predict to the ‘masses?’
  • Do the audience control culture production or do industries predict to the ‘masses?’ There is, however, yet a further step in the argument: Adorno and Horkheimer were not only arguing about how culture had become standardized and robbed of any unique qualities, they also suggested that this resulted in a particular type of consumption in which few demands were made of the listener, viewer or reader. The 'mass culture' that was being, produced by the culture industry encouraged consumers to reject everything that was not familiar.
  • Maverick Sabre Different so won’t do as well in the charts UK 18 – Peak position No One UK 50 – Peak position
  • Find an artist who fits the theory and one who doesn’t Mat be hard to find one who doesn’t – therefore to what extent has an existing one gone against the theory?
  • Adorno and horkheimer 2013v2 students

    1. 1. Text taken from: Production of Culture/ Cultures of Production (ed) Paul Du Gay, Sage 1997
    2. 2. The X Factor is going to help you understand… • Adorno and Horkeimer’s ‘Culture Industry’ • Standardization • Pseudo-individuality • Capitalism • Do you know what any of these are?
    3. 3. THE CULTURETHE CULTURE INDUSTRYINDUSTRY Adorno and Horkheimer adopted the term 'culture industry’ to argue that the way in which cultural items were produced was analogous to how other industries manufactured vast quantities of consumer goods. Adorno and Horkheimer argued that the culture industry exhibited an 'assembly-line character" which could be observed in 'the synthetic, planned method of turning out its products.
    4. 4. THE X-FACTOR MACHINETHE X-FACTOR MACHINE Adorno and Horkheimer linked the idea of the 'culture industry' to a model of 'mass culture' in which cultural production had become a routine, standardized repetitive operation that produced undemanding cultural commodities which in turn resulted in a type of consumption that was also standardized, distracted and passive.
    5. 5. WHO’S INWHO’S IN CONTORL?CONTORL? Adorno and Horkheimer's view of cultural production has, with some justification, often been portrayed as the pessimistic lament of cultural elitists who were dismayed at what they perceived to be the homogeneity and vulgarity of 'mass" taste, and who were concerned that the potential for artistic creativity in music, literature and painting had been co-opted and corrupted by the production methods and administrative regimes of industrial capitalism.
    6. 6. WHO’S INWHO’S IN CONTORL?CONTORL? The capitalist corporation seems to enjoy an almost omnipotent form of domination and both the consumers and the creative artists are not separate from but are directly connected to this system of production. Adorno and Horkheimer stressed the structures of economic ownership and control of the means through which cultural products are produced and argued that this directly shapes the activities of creative artists and consumers. REJECT EVERYTHING REJECT EVERYTHINGTHAT ISN’T FAMILIAR THAT ISN’T FAMILIAR
    7. 7. Adorno and Horkheimer argued that the 'culture industry' operated in the same way as other manufacturing industries. All work had become formalized and products were made according to rationalized organizational procedures that were established for the sole purpose of making money. The metaphor of the 'assembly-line' was used to stress the repetitive and routine character of cultural production.
    8. 8. STANDARDIZATIONSTANDARDIZATION Adorno and Horkheimer argued that all products produced by the culture industry exhibited standardized features. The argument here is that there is nothing spontaneous about the process of cultural production: it has become a routine operation that can be carried out ' in an office by the application of specific formulae.Adorno noted that songs which became successful over time were often referred to as 'standards', a category that clearly drew attention to their formulaic character. From the 'plan' to the details, songs were based around repetitive sequences and frequently recurring refrains (Adorno, 1976, p. 25). This was done for quite calculated commercial reasons, so that the song would imprint itself on the mind of the listener and then provoke a purchase. For Adorno, the production of bit songs had become a mechanical and manipulative operation motivated purely by commercial gain. Think about the popular songs that you might hear throughout an average day (on the radio, when out shopping, on television or when in a club or bar). Do you agree with Adorno's argument about standardized songs? Are some songs more predictable than others? Or is such an analysis simply irrelevant today?
    9. 9. PSEUDO INDIVIDUALITYPSEUDO INDIVIDUALITY Adorno and Horkheimer evoked the image of the lock and key - an item that is mass produced in millions, whose uniqueness lies in only very minor modifications Adorno and Horkheimer were also critical of what they referred to as pseudo individuality. By this they meant the way that the culture industry assembled products that made claims to 'originality' but which when examined more critically exhibited little more than superficial differences. Think again about the music you listen to in terms of Adorno's argument about pseudo individuality. To what extent do you think that you recognize singers, songs, composers and symphonies by their 'trade marks'?
    10. 10. TO CONCLUDETO CONCLUDE Adorno and Horkheimer believe that the culture industry allows people to become 'masses' and be easily manipulated by capitalist corporations and authoritarian governments. Adorno and Horkheimer thus present us with a powerful argument about what happens to culture when it is subject to the structural control and organization of industrial capitalist production: it becomes merely a standardized, formulaic and repetitive element of 'mass culture'. It has no aesthetic value whatsoever and leads to a very specific type of consumption that is passive, obedient and easily manipulated for the purpose of propaganda or advertising. Does this type of reasoning sound familiar? Have you ever defended your own cultural preferences (books, films, music, television programmes, opera, theatre) as complex and demanding, while criticizing other peoples' as standardized and repetitive? Have you heard people explain the worldwide popularity of performers such as Madonna, films like Batman or the novels of Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) by arguing that the audiences are being manipulated by the marketing and promotional mechanisms of the culture-producing corporations'?