Mass Culture Summary

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In “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, ” authors Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno use media as an example to argue that mass culture is no longer determined by the majority of a population, and that the characteristics of a mass culture is actually determined by those “produce” culture. In their essay, the authors express that culture has turned into an industry, in which the only motivation to circulate the products of culture within a population is to make money. Mass culture is a uniform set of intellectual and artistic values and practices within a community, whose characteristics should be determined by the “mass”, or population. However, the traits of a mass culture is instead set by capitalists who want to create a culture industry that manufactures products of culture that appear to be diverse, but are really based on a uniform structure. The culture industry puts forth many different products, and it appears as if consumers have many options of how they can engage with the mass culture. This appearances has lead the population as a whole to divide into groups, which later dictates how they participate in the mass culture. One example of this is the concept of high and low cultures. These two subdivisions of culture reflect the difference in socioeconomic statuses within a community, where differing ranges of affordability of each economic class is a huge determining factor for the aspects of culture to which these members have access.

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