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EXT 502 - Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School: For Graduate-Level Communications Studies

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I gave this presentation in our Human Communication course (EXT 502) in May 2008. It provides an overview of critical theory in the context of communication and technology studies.

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EXT 502 - Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School: For Graduate-Level Communications Studies

  1. 1. <ul><li>Would you like a glass of homogenized milk with that mass consumption? </li></ul>Critical theory, the Frankfurt School and universal pragmatics in the context of communication and technology studies
  2. 2. What to expect today What is critical theory? What/Who is the Frankfurt School? Implications for communication technology & mass media Who is Habermas? What is universal pragmatics?
  3. 3. What is critical theory?
  4. 4. “ critiquing & changing society as a whole”
  5. 5. The 3 assumptions of critical theory are…
  6. 6. Knowledge is awareness, and awareness is power. (epistemological)
  7. 7. People are always organized in hierarchical power structures. (ontological)
  8. 8. Critical theorists value individuality and emancipation. (axiological)
  9. 9. Look closer.
  10. 10. <ul><li>The </li></ul><ul><li>Frankfurt </li></ul><ul><li>School </li></ul><ul><li>(“Institute for Social Research”) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Habermas Adorno Horkheimer
  12. 12. The Frankfurt School: Critical theory with a spin – it’s all about capitalism
  13. 13. The Frankfurt School + Mass Communication
  14. 14. Why so interested in mass communication & power, Adorno?
  15. 15. Why so interested in mass communication & power, Adorno?
  16. 16. The culture industry: How corporations own and mass produce a pacified culture that accepts its homogenization http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kmlm7UPtSw
  17. 17. <ul><li>Mass consumption tastes good. </li></ul><ul><li>At your desk when you got there – choice to eat? </li></ul><ul><li>Familiar taste </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to access </li></ul><ul><li>Groupthink: Is everyone eating them? Then I should, too… </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Frankfurt School + Technology
  19. 19. <ul><li>Domination fosters resistance </li></ul><ul><li>(Marx) </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Can Web technologies emancipate? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Internetworked Social Movements </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Is there a need for those in power to continue to control what people are saying online? </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>What would the Frankfurt School say about the emancipatory power of the Web? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Criticism (to keep in mind): Adorno condemns society but offers no promise of a better tomorrow.

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