THEODOR ADORNO (September 11, 1903 – August 6, 1969)

Theodor Adorno was a German  philosopher and sociologist known for  his own concepts that contributed to the critical theory. His main focus was that of the human condition in modern society. Adorno was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory , alongside other well known sociologist and philosophers such as Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse as well as some others . He was most influenced by Marx and his theories. He was engrossed in the process of dethroning capitalism.



calvin culture industry



The term Culture Industry was coined by Adorno and Horkheimer. The term Culture industry  was developed as a critical theme from the work Dialectic of Enlightenment.  Culture Industry is defined in the textbook Sociological Theory of the Contemporary Era  by Scott Appelrouth and Laura  Edles  as the “Sectors involved in the creation and distribution of mass culture products. Television,film, radio, music, magazines , newspapers, books, and advertisements that churn out mass- produced, standardized commodities and ideas that abort and silence criticism.”( 96). When first trying to simplify the definition my understanding of culture industry is the selling, advertising, of mass deception. Kind of like the selling of a dream.

One website that gave a lot of examples of understanding the concept of culture industry to describe it as culture and societies thinking that they have control over the way they think. But in all actuality it is just Pseudo-Individualization.

culture industry media

Pseudo- Individualization

Pseudo- Individualization is defined as “Standardized, mass-produced cultural products endowed with a deceptive halo of free choice.”(Applerouth, Edles 97)

The deception that individuals receive after being tricked into thinking that they are getting something that is different when in actuality they are getting the same thing just some things may be tweaked a bit or not at all.  It is the false differences between two things.

In the case of advertisement pseudo- individualization gives the consumers the hopes of being an individual but the messages, ads, and product are made to reach out to numerous people that may share the same values on a broad spectrum.  For example advertising foods, they may have different names but are advertised as the same product. Stores are well known for doing that ( ie. store brand, Walmart), having the original name brand and then the store brand of the exact product being sold.



In today’s societies there are many ways to gain control over people. Our main source of control is that of the media. It is everywhere, it has programmed us into thinking that we need something to better ourselves. But with media it is all a ploy to keep us the same in order to remain in control.



Appelrouth, S. and Edles, L. (2016). Sociological theory in the contemporary era. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Jeff Lasser.

Blunden, A. (2005). Frankfurt School: The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. [online] Available at:

Fagan, A. (n.d.). Adorno, Theodor | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [online] Available at:

Helm, C. (2014). Pseudo-Individualization. [online] The Roadrunner Theorist. Available at:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s