Culture Industry Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1547 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sociology

Culture Industry

We make, and are made by culture," (Storey, 61); the culture of any society represents the prevailing attitudes and values of that world. However, these values do not always represent the interests of the working and lower classes of that society. The ideas of Culture represent the interests of the dominant upper classes which own the means of production. Yet, they are forever engrained within a society compiled mainly of proletariat working class members through the Culture Industry which represents the hegemony use to bridge the gap between the upper and lower classes in order to avoid complete revolution and destruction.

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The culture of any era is directly a product of the dominant class of that era. In the Marxist view, representing the political-economic scope of culture, the dominant class represents the group within society which owns the means of production which keeps that society running. The lower classes are those who must perform the work needed, without owning what their labor creates. Take a closer look at any historical time period, the dominant culture represented the ideals and practices of the ruling class, "during the time the aristocracy was dominant, the concepts of honour, loyalty, etc., were dominant, during the dominance of the bourgeoisie the concepts of freedom, equality, etc.," (Marx & Engels, 40). According to Marx, it is the dominant class which formulates the ideology of any particular society; that is the production of meanings and values in everyday social life. It is this popular ideology which directs the formation of high and popular cultures within all societies.

Ideology is associated with the use of a language to perpetuate a certain image of a society, rather than the language itself. It is the direct goal of the language of an ideology to sustain the dominant class' position of power and privilege.

Term Paper on Culture Industry We Make, and Are Made Assignment

There is a sharp division between the classes. The ruling class has the luxury to think, and therefore represents the intellectual body which governs over high culture. The lower classes, however, are too busy with their physical labor to produce intellectual concepts and ideas about themselves and their conditions. This separation can breed trouble, "Within this class cleavage can develop into a certain opposition and hostility between the two parts," (Marx & Engels, 40). With the knowledge that the proletariat will revolt if left unhappy, high Culture is moved from the upper class to a more universal acceptance. Culture is essentially the mores and values of the upper class efficiently disguised as a universal culture to cover the entire society.

Therefore, according to Marx and Engels, a society cannot have ideas without some sort of material facet for those ideas to permeate the various levels hidden within that society.

This idea was adopted and further developed by British Cultural Studies. According to British cultural critics, this gap can be closed with the covert use of hegemony to keep the lower classes superficially content. Hegemony represents "a political concept developed to explain the absence of socialist revolutions in the capitalist democracies," (Storey, 48). This process is a covert action taken by the dominant class to gain control over the masses without breaking the rules and regulations of civility. This is a type of control seen particularly on an individual level, for each individual within the society is subjected to the process of hegemony. The dominant class rules over through "moral and intellectual leadership," (48). Despite the lower classes being subjected to oppression, there is harmony in society in the idea that the majority of the population adheres to the same moral codes and values, establishing a general "consensus" among its members, (48). This consensus must be maintained and kept intact in order to prevent the lower classes from becoming resentful of their position within the society. This falls right into the idea of socialist revolutions seen in the theories of Marx and Engels. The dominant groups effectively negotiate with the lower classes in order to keep them from resentment. Even though the upper class may have to make some sacrifices, they keep the masses from revolting. Conflict is still present in these types of agreements, but it is contained from exploding into revolution.

This system of hegemonic control is firmly established through the various facets of the Culture Industry. It is the industries collectively, which perpetuate the values of the dominant as their own group in order to keep the lower classes from resenting that dominating culture. The dominant values are constantly regurgitated by institutions as well as industries. Schools, churches, and other social institutions perpetuate these values as the norm. The culture industry also consists of the film industry, the popular media, advertising industries, music industries, and so on, (Horkheimer & Adorno, 71). Together, all of these institutions and industries provide a strong, united front to overwhelm other cultural influences which would promote the interests of the lower classes.

Due to the massive droves of individuals who undertake in the projection of a particular cultural identity, it permeates several levels of society, "It is alleged that because millions participate in it, certain reproduction processes are necessary that inevitably require identical needs in innumerable places to be satisfied with identical goods," (Horkheimer & Adorno, 72). It then is consumed by the millions, if not billions of members of society who have no direct participation in the formation of the ideas behind the dominant culture. It manipulates these members into believing this is their culture, when really in fact it is that of the ruling class only. Masses of people are forced to witness the same types of programs, concepts, and ideas; all deviants to this norm are considered amateurs or independents, (Horkheimer & Adorno, 72). Therefore, the multi-faceted needs of the society are morphed into one uniform body which is created and maintained through hegemony by the dominant class of society.

These institutions and industries harkens back to the Marxist idea that ideologies must come with material facets in order to survive and flourish within a particular society. These material facets include the commercial presence of industries within a capitalistic culture, "Viewing culture from political economy, from perspective of analysis of the system of production and distribution, may disclose how the cultural industries reproduce the dominant corporate and commercial culture," (Durham & Kellner, 4). The way to avoid conflict between the rich and poor classes in a capitalist society is to introduce to them the Culture of the privileged and educated classes through marketing strategies and prevailing popular Culture. This Culture is then allowed to be adopted as part of their own, in order to promote hegemony in the society with its roots in material marketing effectively making even more money for the dominant classes who own production methods..

It is then, the dominant class which molds the formation of marks and characteristics of Western Culture. The ruling class dominates which ideas are present in the formation of Western culture, "their ideas are the ruling class of the epoch," (Marx & Engels, 39). Western Culture is a product of the industries created to entertain and serve it. The mass media is one of the most pervasive elements of this hegemonic system aimed at keeping a grip on the general consensus of a society, "Films, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part. Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rhythm of the iron system," (Horkheimer & Adorno, 71). There are many other facets which help shape Western Culture from a more elite perspective as well. Take for example famous Western art genres. Many of the fascination with art history have promoted a unique niche within the scope of high Culture. Individual pieces become part of the larger art culture,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Culture Industry" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Culture Industry.  (2008, June 28).  Retrieved January 23, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Culture Industry."  28 June 2008.  Web.  23 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Culture Industry."  June 28, 2008.  Accessed January 23, 2021.