Culture Industry

(2234 words)
  • Andrew Edgar (University of Wales, Cardiff)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

The term “culture industry” was coined in the early 1940s by the Frankfurt School theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, in Dialectic of Enlightenment (Horkheimer and Adorno, 2002, pp. 94-136). In this original formulation, the term refers to the mass entertainment industries, and in particular those dominant in 1930s Europe and North America, cinema and radio, but also to the advertising industry. The term contains what at the time would be a clear, and in some respects shocking, juxtaposition of opposites. Culture, a realm of freedom that may readily be associated with civilisation and even aesthetic autonomy, is entwined with the realm of necessity and economic production. Horkheimer and Adorno thereby …

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Edgar, Andrew. "Culture Industry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 January 2009
[, accessed 28 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Critical Theory