Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The culture industry is a term used to describe the nature of the social, economic and political structures that are proposed by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. The theory basically states that our culture not only mirrors our society but takes an important role in shaping it through the process of standardisation and commodification, creating objects rather than subjects.
His theories stand in stark contrast to much of Postmodernism, denying that modern commercial culture is as valid as that which preceded it, as it creates an atmosphere which serves to reinforce the statu quo through creating false needs and a "fetish character" to culture rather than one which actually tries to question beliefs and ideologies.
The product of this culture industry is one that is designed to fill the leisure time of the audience. Adorno lambasts the notion of "free time" which he sees as the opposite of leisure, and the idea of hobbies being an affront to genuine interests.
Critics of the theory say that the products of mass culture would not be popular if people did not enjoy it, and that culture is self-determining in its administration. However, the concept heavily influenced intellectual discourse on popular culture and scholarly popular culture studies.
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