In short nobody likes ‘copycats’ or the idea of not being unoriginal, but in reality, we are all carbon copies of each other and these are the key points researched and explained by Theodor Adorno and Mark Horkhimer. 



In 1923 the institute for social research was created in Germany and the Frankfurt school was born. The school was designed to look at the sociological understandings of modern capitalism and how the mass society was affected. In Adorno and Horkimer’s book ‘Dialectic of enlightenment’ the main theme explored through the text is the effect of the culture industry.  

Adorno clearly explains how the mass society is affected due to the rise of the culture industry and has therefore lead to cultural chaos. He believed that people could spend their spare time learning and educating themselves and therefore expand their minds. But instead people were choosing to give into the pressures of the entertainment industry, such as films, radio, theatre and music. This links to the critical theory and shows that under a monopoly, all modern mass culture has become identical.   

A good example of this was shown in a recent lecture by Dr. Heidi Herzogenrath-Amelung. The ‘Axis of Awesome’ group show that a variety of popular songs can be played with the same four cords. And illustrates Adorno’s theory.  

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Adorno tells us ‘for culture now impresses the same stamp on everything’. This is reflected in an iron system as people bought into the ideology of a normal reality, without even questioning originality and living life in a metaphorical uniform.  

This theory is still relatable to our society due to social media. The online world brings its own pressures and people can feel obliged to try and fit in as, that is how our modern society naturally runs. People let the internet take over their real-life reality and is a distraction.   

Not only does Adorno argue that the cultural industry has affected modern capitalism, he also explains how the industry sold us goods we didn’t effectively need and this was due to advertising.   

This theory is true and can be reflected in modern day life. Examples include adverts you consume on digital devices. Take this car advert, it has a duration of over two minutes and doesn’t even mention the actual car until the end of the advert. 

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The key purpose is to try and sell the consumer a lifestyle and ideology, that gets to the heart of what they want. In this case, the advert is trying to sell us freedom and paints a picture in the mind’s eye of a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, if people wanted freedom, they would easily be persuaded to buy this car. Therefore, proving that Adorno and Horkheimer’s theories do make sense and can be reflected in modern capitalism at any point.  


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