Explain the following passage taken from Adorno’s Culture Industry Reconsidered: “The power of the culture industry’s ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness. The order...
Explain the following passage taken from Adorno’s Culture Industry Reconsidered: “The power of the culture industry’s ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness. The order that springs from it is never confronted with what it claims to be or with the real interests of human beings.”
Adorno has elsewhere referred to the term "culture industry" as a process by which "old and familiar" things are "fused together into a new quality." In other words most of culture is based upon objects or images or ideas that we already recognize from past exposure. Adorno also notes that there is a "general uncritical consensus" is the production of such items, and they they act as their own form of advertisement. "Industry" does not only refer to manufacturing, but also to modes of distribution and the means by which things become familiar.
In this passage, "consciousness" is another way of referring to individuality. The culture industry is one that creates a stimulating and overwhelming array of images, texts, sounds and other media forms (most of them already in existence as opposed to new and original) that allow individuals to simply pick and choose from a wide variety of choices. These choices become associated with personal identity, forming a kind of "order" or structure of the self. Because an individual can find commonality with others based upon these kinds of interests in cultural memes and objects, it can be very easy to believe we make such choices freely and that we're motivated by out own unique interests. But Adorno seems to be saying that this freedom of choice is illusory, and that individuality has given way to conformity. He also notes that the "real interests of human beings" are not served by a careless engagement with culture; this suggests that we may actually be lessening our intellectual rigor and cultural awareness by making choices in this casual manner.