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How did Frankfurt School of Critical Theory influence Europe? Also I heard something...

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jakubrous | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted August 2, 2013 at 9:34 PM via web

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How did Frankfurt School of Critical Theory influence Europe? Also I heard something about student riots which were influenced by Frankfurt School. Did their theories cause unrest among students in Europe?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:16 AM (Answer #1)

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In the context of turbulent time periods such as the 1960s, thinkers of the Frankfurt School were seen as responsible for causing unrest among students in Europe and in America.  Herbert Marcuse was called "the pied piper of student unrest."  In the end, the Frankfurt School was not responsible for riots.  The thinkers who were part of this school of thought simply advocated for looking at the critical causes of economic and social subjugation in one's social environment. 

In their embrace of Marxist thought, the Frankfurt school criticized much of capitalist society.  Its critical theory demanded reexamination of the individual and society, along with their place in it.  This caused a level of reflection and, sometimes, anger regarding the conditions of wealth in a social setting.  At times, this helped to fuel some of the anger that students were experiencing.  The Frankfurt school of thought did not create the conditions they were criticizing.  Rather, they were articulating them.  The real causes for the rebellions and riots of the time were disproportionate accumulation of wealth, poverty, and discrimination in different forms.  The Frankfurt School did not construct these realities.  Rather, they explored them.  It is in this light where one can sense that their theoretical believes did not create or cause the unrest amongst students.  They gave voice and understanding to them.

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