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Culture Industry Revisited

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As the culture wars continue to dominate newspaper headlines and conference panels, much of the debate revolves around the value of and values in popular culture. Many opponents of popular culture have cited Theodor W. Adorno, one of the leading figures of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists. Adorno is understood to have viewed mass culture as completely commodified—that is, produced only to be sold on the market and without aesthetic value. In this compelling book, Deborah Cook critically examines this view and argues persuasively that even Adorno's "pessimistic" theory leaves room for resistance to the culture industry. Beginning with an exploration of the theoretical background for Adorno's work, Cook then examines Adorno's conception and criticism of mass culture and its consumption, and his views about art and its relation to mass culture. The first book-length treatment in English of Adorno's work on popular culture, The Culture Industry Revisited provides new readers of Adorno with an understanding of his theory and an overview of his more important critics. Those more familiar with Adorno will find important discussion of some of the more controversial ideas in his work. The book will be of interest to scholars and upper-level students of philosophy, sociology, literature, communications, and cultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Communication
In sum, the book is a refreshing departure from the frequent tendency to bash and dismiss Adorno without further ado, or the tendency of his followers to simply celebrate him as the greatest theorist of the contemporary moment. Cook's book should thus be of significant use to those interested in Adorno and critical theory, cultural studies and mass communication, and contemporary social theory. Adorno's work itself is transdisciplinary and Cook presents him in a fashion in which he could be of use to a broad transdisciplinary audience
Sociological Abstracts
Adorno's speculative thinking in the service of norms such as freedom, autonomy, and spontaneity serves as a prototype of social and political practice that might overcome the reification and narcissism endemic to contemporary mass culture.
Douglas Kellner
Deborah Cook's study of Adorno and mass culture critically engages one of the most important thinkers of our century. An excellent job in presenting Adorno's complex thought applied to a wide range of issues in contemporary social theory and media criticism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847681556
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 0.47 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Cook is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Windsor and the author of The Subject Finds a Voice: Foucault's Turn Towards Subjectivity (1993).

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Table of Contents

1 The Sundered Totality: Adorno's Freudo-Marxist Paradigm 1
2 Toward a Political Economy of the Culture Industry 27
3 Psyche under Siege: The Psychology of Domination and Resistance 51
4 Affirmative Culture and Enlightened Critique 77
5 Reassessing the Culture Industry 103
Epilogue 131
Notes to Chapters 139
Bibliography 171
Index 185
About the Author 191
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