According to Adorno, the culture industry presents a huge danger to the people. The culture industry ideally looks at the culture to be based on the things which are already recognized form the past (Adorno 114). Adorno looks at how the culture industry has led to the collapse of reason in the society. It reduces the ability of the society to develop individuals who can independently reason and make decisions for themselves. Such is a dangerous trend which the society is adapting quickly to due to their preferences and tastes.
Adorno's claim that "conformity has replaced consciousness" is thus based on the fact that the culture industry has ended reasoning among many people and enforced beliefs (Adorno 116). The enlightenment in the culture industry can be considered to be mass deception. People end up turning into subordinate objects in such a way that they cannot take responsibility for their actions. The culture industry thus presents a challenge to the country's democracy as the people might end up making decisions based on manipulation from mass media rather than reasoning based on the logic (Adorno 117). The industry has imposed conformity among people through the use of recycled formulas in its products. The culture industry thus ends up demoting the value of culture and the meaning of reason among people.
Marcuse's work looks at how the modern society is an object of freedom. Freedom is used to manipulate individuals in the society. The freedom described in this case is not freedom but a way to earn dominance (Marcuse 120). For example, an employee can work extra hard to fulfill their needs which is freedom. The needs are used as a form of manipulation by the employer to get work done in the extra hours. Additionally, the people in the present world are slaves in their own making. They are bound to factors such as technology and social media to survive. For example, the introduction of machines which are replacing the human labor has created a different form of freedom. The machine gives out economic success but also comes with it increased dependence.
Marcuse goes further to criticize the media as an agent of manipulation. The media is one of the areas in which the people are manipulated easily into believing in specific ideologies. Marcuse thus identifies liberty as a powerful instrument of domination (Marcuse 123). It means that provided the mindset of being free; one can easily be manipulated by the media or government into doing something that will not benefit them in the long run.
The two claims from Adorno and Marcuse look at the way the society is brainwashed by the present culture and beliefs. The culture in the modern age is a danger to the society as it has reduced the level of reasoning among individuals making them subject to manipulation. Adorno and Marcuse are thus both concerned about where the modern society is heading to regarding enlightenment. It presents a danger to democracy since the media is always an agent of manipulation.
The two claims are responding to the changing behavior of the society. The society is experiencing changes due to various aspects brought about by the media culture. The media has made people believe on specific topics which are misleading the people instead of leading them in the right direction. For example, Marcuse responds the issue of freedom brought about by the changing culture in the society. Freedom seen in the society is not absolute freedom. This type of freedom ends up destroying individuals. Individuals are not fully free from factors such as technology and media. Such as agents of manipulation and thus they lead to domination.
Adorno, on the other hand, claims that the culture industry is raising individuals who cannot reason and make their own decisions. As a consequence, countries around the world will have a problem in the future since they will only believe what is provided by the media. The manipulation likely to occur will erode democracy and freedom in many societies since the media will only act in their interest.
The two are worried that the present system that claims to be democratic is authoritarian in such a way that only a few individuals dictate the perception of freedom. Individuals are thus easily manipulated into working extra hard to earn their freedom or doing what they don't like to attain the freedom (Adorno 119). The system is dangerous for the future of democracy as it presents a challenge of manipulation. Once the freedom of individuals is manipulated, the society will be controlled by only a few powerful individuals. According to Adorno, the culture industry is a contributor to the manipulation as it has done away with reason from people. People can thus not decide on what they want, leaving the media and other agents to dictate the meaning of their freedom and happiness. It is a worrying trend for the future as it will see increased manipulation and loss of freedom to the people.
Marcuse, Herbert. One-dimensional man: Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. Routledge, 2013. 119-117.
Adorno, Theodor W. "Culture industry reconsidered." New German Critique 6 (1975): 113-117.
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