Cultural Industry

In the text from Horkeimer and Adorno, the cultural industry is an authority that leaves consumers or audiences utterly defenseless in its attempts to gain control and gain more economic strength.  Though Horkeimer and Adorno claim that we as consumers are powerless, we are given a false sense of control through the products we purchase, the music we listen to, and the movies we watch, etc. We are all seen as target markets to the cultural industry. The industry only provides what is deemed a need to consumers. Even audiences who are resistant or in opposition to the industries practices are seen as a target market themselves. The cultural industry is an inescapable entity.

The text also makes an interesting statement in that the cultural industry is not shy about its brazen practices at times and that we as the public are aware of this and yet still succumb to its ultimate agenda.  The industry runs on the ideology of what Hokeimer and Adorno call “just business” (71). They are aware that the public knows their intentions.  It seems that we are all cognizant of the fact that they are in the business of mass production.

Where Herman, Chomsky, Horkeimer, and Adorno are in agreement is on the topic of industry and power or control. All address within their texts that those with the greatest economic stake in the media industry ultimately retain dominance.  It is these stakeholders that set the trend and cycle for the consumers. Chomsky and Herman, unlike Horkeimer and Adorno go more into detail of the socio-political influences in media and the various mediums.

In relation to McLuhan’s idea that “the medium is the message”, McLuhan is more concerned with the concept of the content within the medium and what message it is distributing. The readings from this week are more concerned with the idea of the medium as a source of power or control over the audience and how these messages are constructed and formulated.


3 Responses to “Cultural Industry”

  1. The point you bring up about the public being aware of the culture industry’s agenda is a very interesting one. It seems that we do all know the great the influence that the media has on us and the importance of studying this powerful force or else a program like Media Studies would not exist. Does the fact that we do little about it make us helpless then to this overwhelming power? Or maybe it’s not so much that we actually are helpless, but that we think we are helpless — the terrible “But what can I do?” attitude. And if so, how can the public be motivated to take control?

  2. katherineer Says:

    I definitely agree with you that this weeks readings are about the medium being a source of power. I think that McLuhan and Adorno do have similarities when it comes to the medium being the message and how powerful it is. However Adorno and Horkheimer discuss more the fact that what we are given, the “medium” is an industry in itself, controlling what we receive and don’t receive, what we think is cool and isn’t.

  3. Yes I do agree with you as we as end users are always fooled and made target to increase their profit. Industries on a large scale control and influence the population and often draw them into center of work and pleasure. As we read from the text ‘The industry runs on the ideology of what Hokeimer and Adorno call “just business” (71). Industries today know that we as consumers are aware about their intentions that they are in the business of mass production.

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