2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mass Media of Repression within the Culture Industry

Poppy Sullivan, 2022, Stage 3

For my stage 3 dissertation, my object of study is mass media, specifically on the subject of repression within the culture industry. I will firstly mention philosopher, Theodor Adorno’s concept of the culture industry, explaining his belief that those who govern society have purposefully caused a standardisation of the media. This creates a domino effect of standardisation in both leisure and work time, that results in a submission to capitalist ideals. I will clarify, that this submission is apparent to Adorno, as during the reign of capitalism, creativity and pleasure have grounded to a halt, preventing new ideas or realisations, which consequently has led to a submission to the political regime.

In response to Adorno, I will discuss Astra Taylor’s concept of repressive technology in her book ‘The Peoples Platform’. Taylor, much like Adorno, argues that the culture industry has led to a growth of capitalist control and power, however, unlike Adorno, Taylor’s focus is on technology.

I will lastly explain Walter Benjamin’s concept of the aura. I will discuss how Benjamin believes that in order for a piece of art to have an aura, it must be authentic and original. Benjamin confesses that the aura of art has depleted as a result of technological advancements, as art can be reproduced easily, thus the original piece has lost its uniqueness. Benjamin, agreeing with Adorno, argues that this, in turn, causes a depletion of creativity. However, I will then reflect on his claim that, if used correctly, this new technology can be an opportunity for a political movement. He says this, as the reproduction of art allows it to be experienced by not just the bourgeoise class, but by all of society, as art has now become a form of mass media. As the opinions of those in power are now not the only ones being heard, the political regime can be challenged, and cultural homogenisation is prevented.

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