Culture Industry Reconsidered

The main theme represented through the piece is that Adorno views media as a tool for creating stupid people. The mass culture is regarded by Adorno as nothing more than to have some form of political/capital influence in turn having obedience from the consumer. To him it is the only way in which our lives can feel enlightened is through the illusionary ideologies that are fed to us leading up to pursue unattainable dreams and promotes a sense of false hope that we are unwarily buy into.

With the “tailored” commodities available to us, consumers have a internal locus of control in the way they believe that the products have been designed for them that they have influenced their production, for their needs, rather than part of a corporations’ cold calculating capitalists plan. The consumer feels as though their needs are being addressed and understood, where ultimately it’s part of the culture, the subliminal coaching that is issued upon the consumer to follow the direction the industry wants them to take.

It is asserted that we buy so willingly into this ideology as we are reliant on it, it fuels our “willingness” to exist and gives purpose to our lives. The excitement and allure of such ideologies can be likened to that of a mosquito to a light zapper – it is dangerous but we are willingly drawn to it – human persona is reduced as a result.

Once the message has been broadcasted to the wider population there is no need to longer “target” the masses as much as there is a need to continue to reinforce the “message”. The so called “skeleton” of the ideology remains the same, it is just delivered in a way that adapts to the current demands and context of the audience. The consumer is stripped of their soul and given a prosthetic one and in turn a reality that the culture industry, wants them to have.

According to Adorno’s views, it is no longer about what we want, but what we think we want, want to hear or what the culture industry wants us to want. It is not about the culture reflecting how a they utilise media and the products but rather how they have been moulded to reflect the culture industry’s ideology through manipulation.


Adorno, T.W. “Culture Industry Reconsidered.” in The Audience Studies Reader. (ed.) Will Brooker and Deborah Jermyn. London: Routledge, 2003. pp. 55-60.

Leave a Reply