COGN 20 Spring ‘11 Prac Essays

COGN 20 Spring ‘11 Prac Essays - COGN 20...

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COGN 20 Spring ‘11 Practice Essays Essay 1 (short): What was the Frankfurt School? What were the conditions of its formation? What were German philosophers, sociologists, and economists set up the Frankfurt School in 1923 to critique capitalism and examine mass culture. It also critiques the standardization of society that is produced through mass production of commodities commercialized by mainstream media. It critiques the notion of culture industries, which produces a massification of ideas that results in cultural uniformity. Cultural uniformity, explained by the Frankfurt School, is produced by the media’s illusion of choice. When, in reality, it only presents “options” within a set, refrained scope of an entity. The term “false consciousness’” is associated with this illusion. This term defines a circumstance of when a dominant, ruling class imposes certain ideologies upon the rest of the social hierarchy in terms of “common sense”. Because of the pervasive influence the dominant class has upon the rest of society, the minority class view the ideologies as a dominant hegemony. This misrepresentational view of the dominant ideologies as “the ordinary” which perpetuates it to maintain the status quo is known as “false consciousness.” Those involved in creating the Frankfurt School noticed capitalism’s eventual but inevitable failure. As a result, the proletariat class accelerated and took advantage of this failure. At this time, commodity production was prevalent. The school wanted to change the idea that capitalism’s failure was inevitable; they did this by exploring cultural and ideological structures impacting life under capitalism. Theorists like Horkheimer and Adorno were involved in producing some of the first accounts within critical social theory of the importance of mass culture and communication in social reproduction and domination. The two theorists developed an account of the “culture industry” to call attention to the industrialization and commercialization of culture under capitalist relations of production. As a result, a highly commercial mass culture emerged and became a distinct feature of capitalist societies and a focus of critical culture studies. The Frankfurters focused on standardization through mass production, and its problematic effects. They primarily emphasized the “massification of culture” and its effects. They viewed culture industries as “distraction factories” central to the massification of ideas, resulting in cultural uniformity. They argued that freedom was no longer really a freedom, as there was a lot less room for meaningful political, social, and cultural individual action. It also emphasized the fiction of choice; rather than being original, people are understood in a mass sense. Standardization is dangerous because things have become too standardized and as a result, it has prevented people from being original and distinguishing between real life and the media. When
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This note was uploaded on 08/30/2011 for the course COGN 20 taught by Professor Dono during the Spring '07 term at UCSD.

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COGN 20 Spring ‘11 Prac Essays - COGN 20...

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