The Culture Industry Argument: Critique Of Mass Media

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The culture industry argument, established by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, is a critique of mass media, which refers to the industrialization of culture, where the masses are not the only source of mass culture; capitalism serves the masses, and treats them like commodities for their own benefit (McAnany & Wilkinson, 1996). Adorno and Horkheimer chose to call it culture industry, rather than mass media, because they believed that in mass media, masses had some influence upon the creation of a culture, but in the culture industry, the public has no influence over the formation of culture; hence, they chose to use the term culture industry, and not mass media (Adorno, 2001). The culture industry thrives on advertising, which is done through mass media platforms in order to reach the masses (Horkheimer, & Adorno, 2009). This essay will outline the …show more content…
According to Cook (1996), every object satisfies specific human needs, and this is the use value of the object. The exchange value is what a product is worth, in the marketplace, and can be the monetary or prestige value; an object with a high exchange value can be expensive, or can be something, which is seen to be prestigious and valuable (Cook, 1996). Adorno and Hockheimer argue that culture industry causes people to become capable of judging objects, only based on their value in the marketplace (Gunster, 2000). Adorno and Horkheimer (1977) further state that everything is looked at only from the aspect that it can be used for something else, and objects have no inherent value, as they become valuable only to the extent that they can be exchanged. Gunster (2000) further elaborates that the culture industry and mass media convinces people that the only real, natural, and pleasurable use value of an object, is the exchange value of it. Adorno gives an example, that if a person goes to a music concert, they are only minimally appreciating the music, but instead, they are mostly worshipping

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