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The Culture Industry / Edition 1

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The term 'culture industry' has been a key reference point in the critical literature on culture and the media ever since the classic chapter in Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment, yet until now there has been little attempt to update the analysis for the present day. In this innovative new book, Heinz Steinert applies the concept of culture industry to contemporary cultural forms and demonstrates its relevance for the twenty-first century.

Unravelling Horkheimer and Adorno's complex prose, Steinert sets out to explain precisely what is meant by the term 'culture industry'. Writing in a clear and engaging style, he provides an accessible exposition of the key themes and concepts. This close textual analysis is combined with wide-ranging case studies showing how the concept of culture industry can be used to approach more recent cultural phenomena. Examining contemporary film, pop music and art, as well as dating agencies and the paparazzi, Steinert reveals the ways in which culture is commodified today.

This is an original book that provides a fresh critical perspective on culture and the media. It will be essential reading for students of media and cultural studies, sociology and of the humanities in general.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Adorno and Horkheimer’s analysis of the cultural industry remains an important model for understanding contemporary media culture. Heinz Steinert provides an excellent presentation of Adorno and Horkheimer’s perspectives on media culture and useful instructions on how to read their text and the products of culture industry, helping to enable his readers to become cultural critics of contemporary culture and theoretical discourse."
Douglas Kellner, University of California at Los Angeles

"Understanding "culture industry" is central to both critical theory and contemporary public life. Heinz Steinert's account is both the best introduction to the subject and an important update for a new era. It should be read widely."
Craig Calhoun, New York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745626765
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Heinz Steinert is Professor of Sociology at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Frankfurt and Foundation Director of the Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology, Vienna.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: the pleasures of criticism 1
1 Approaching culture industry: recommended equipment 7
Field notes I: Why are you smiling Leonardo? 16
Autonomy and mass deception - a case of Dialectic of Enlightenment 20
Field notes II: The President as the bad guy - Clint Eastwood's Absolute Power 27
The structure of the 'Culture Industry' essay 30
Field notes III: Heartburn and telephone sex 35
2 On method: look carefully, think thoroughly, and do not let yourself be taken in 39
Skoteinos, or how to read Adorno 39
Field notes IV: Woody Allen, or the film critics' blindness to irony 46
Countertransference and analysing the working alliance 50
Field notes V: Talk Radio - insulting the audience 60
3 The production of cultural commodities 63
Problems involved in producing cultural commodities 63
Fordist standardization: 'Uniform as a whole and in every part' 71
Field notes VI: Exoticism and music 82
Working alliances in the cultural history of the twentieth century: bourgeois, modern, avant-garde and reflexive 87
Field notes VII: The obsolescence of high culture's critique of society: the case of Carolee Schneemann 96
4 What is wrong with consensual entertainment? 99
Amusement - 'released from every restraint' or the 'prolongation of work'? 99
Field notes VIII: Clowns, performers and shows - the not quite so respectable arts 104
Culture as advertising - advertising as potlatch 111
5 The conditions of belonging: the appropriation of the audience 119
'Ironically, man as a member of a species has been made a reality by the culture industry [monopoly capitalism]' 119
Field notes IX: Can we find Hitler funny? 124
What can the public want? 126
Field notes X: Total control of your life 138
6 Culture industry politics 142
Structural populism 142
Field notes XI: Why Princess Diana's death was so moving 150
7 Intellectuals in the supermarket: perplexed 155
Professional and lay critics of media and society 155
Field Notes XII: Woody Allen's Manhattan operettas 172
Notes 176
Select bibliography of works by Adorno and Horkheimer 195
Index 198
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