Sunday, 13 January 2013

Understanding Adorno

I am attempting to read The Culture Industry and am finding it quite difficult not least because of the number of words I am having to get definitions for.  I found this link which has been useful

University of Essex Adorno

This author, Andrew Fagan, has summarised the main thinking from the Culture Industry and also explained why Adorno deliberately made his writing challenging to read...

'Adorno can be very difficult to read. He writes in a manner which does not lend itself to ready comprehension. This is intentional. Adorno views language itself as having become an object of, and vehicle for, the perpetuation of domination. He is acutely aware of the extent to which this claim complicates his own work. In attempting to encourage a critical awareness of suffering and domination, Adorno is forced to use the very means by which these conditions are, to a certain extent, sustained. His answer to this problem, although not intended to be ultimately satisfying, is to write in a way that requires hard and concentrated efforts on the part of the reader, to write in a way that explicitly defies convention and the familiar. Adorno aims to encourage his readers to attempt to view the world and the concepts that represent the world in a way that defies identity thinking.' 

Ive extracted this from the websites which I think is most relevant to my Dissertation:

'According to Adorno, systematic exposure to the culture industry (and who can escape from it for long in this media age?) has the fundamental effect of pacifying its consumers. Consumers are presented as being denied any genuine opportunities to actively contribute to the production of the goods to which they are exposed. Similarly, Adorno insists that the form and content of the specific commodities themselves, be it a record, film, or TV show, require no active interpretative role on the part of the consumer: all that is being asked of consumers is that they buy the goods. Adorno locates the origins of the pacifying effects of cultural commodities in what he views as the underlying uniformity of such goods, a uniformity that belies their ostensible differences. Adorno conceives of the culture industry as a manifestation of identity-thinking and as being effected through the implementation of instrumentally rationalized productive techniques. He presents the culture industry as comprising an endless repetition of the same commodified form. He argues that the ostensibly diverse range of commodities produced and consumed under the auspices of the culture industry actually derive from a limited, fundamentally standardized ‘menu’ of interchangeable features and constructs. Thus, he presents the structural properties of the commodities produced and exchanged within the culture industry as being increasingly standardized, formulaic, and repetitive in character. He argues that the standardized character of cultural commodities results from the increasingly mechanized nature of the production, distribution, and consumption of these goods. It is, for example, more economically rational to produce as many products as possible from the same identical ‘mould’. Similarly, the increasing control of distribution centers by large, multinational entertainment conglomerates tends towards a high degree of uniformity.

According to Adorno, the culture industry fundamentally prohibits the development of autonomy by means of the mediatory role its various sectors play in the formation of individuals’ consciousness of social reality. The form and content of the culture industry is increasingly misidentified as a veritable expression of reality: individuals come to perceive and conceive of reality through the pre-determining form of the culture industry. The culture industry is understood by Adorno to be an essential component of a reified form of second nature, which individuals come to accept as a pre-structured social order, with which they must conform and adapt. The commodities produced by the culture industry may be ‘rubbish’, but their effects upon individuals is deadly serious.'

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