Sociology Index


Theodor Adorno was among the radical critics of mass culture. Mass culture refers to how culture gets produced, whereas popular culture refers to how culture gets consumed. Mass culture tends to reproduce the liberal values of individualism and to foster a view of the citizen as consumer.  Mass culture was boosted by modern communications and electronic media. A mass culture is transmitted to individuals, rather than arising from people's daily interactions, and therefore lacks the distinctive content of cultures rooted in community and region. Along with Max Horkheimer, Adorno developed in Dialectics of Enlightenment (1947) the first critical theory which discerned the crucial role of mass culture and communication in contemporary capitalist societies.

Mass culture in modern Russia is diffused, through and by mass-media, especially television foreign models and patterns predominate. Adorno developed a critical methodology to analyze the production, texts, and reception of the artifacts of what became known as "popular culture," thus anticipating the approach of later forms of "culture and cultural studies." Adorno’s extended conception of ‘culture industries’ renders the usual criticism of his views as ‘elitist’ meaningless.

Meaning of Mass Culture and Bohemianization of Mass Culture

The Bohemianization of Mass Culture - Elizabeth Wilson.

I suggest that whereas the discourse surrounding bohemianism was one of authenticity versus the falseness and commercialization of mass culture, the figure of the bohemian was always discursively produced in popular culture from Henry Murger onwards, bohemians becoming the subject matter of numerous salon paintings, popular fiction, films and journalism.

It is argued that far from being extinct, bohemian values of expressiveness, sexual experimentation, radicalism and an aesthetic approach to life have become the mainstay of mass culture. This raises the question of whether the contested divide between 'High Art' and 'Mass Culture', much debated within cultural studies since the 1970s, is still as salient as we assume.

Adorno and Mass Culture: Autonomous Art Against the Culture Industry - Gyorgy Markus.
Adorno’s extended conception of culture industry renders the usual criticism of his views as ‘elitist’ meaningless. The same expansion creates, however, logical strains and contradictions in his analysis of the character and function of the culture industry: a strain in its ‘psychosocial’ and ‘status compulsion’ interpretation. In his late work Adorno attempts to solve this contradiction, but at a heavy price, by creating a conceptual barrier between pleasure and happiness.

Meaning and Mass Culture: The Search for a New Literacy - Tim Vincent. The present mass culture can be characterized by its resistance to meaning or, perhaps more accurately, its resistance to a clear separation between information and meaning. A central goal of literacy education will be to develop minds that can create meaning, not merely become more proficient at processing received information.

Soviet Sport and Transnational Mass Culture in the 1930s - Barbara Keys. As an international system of competitive, achievement-oriented sport developed into one of the interwar period's most potent carriers of transnational mass culture, the Soviet Union initially chose not to participate. Ideologically hostile toward capitalist internationalism and suspicious of international cultural influences, the Soviet regime instead attempted to create an alternative international system of 'proletarian sport' that eschewed record-seeking and individualism. In the 1930s, however, the political benefits of participation in 'capitalist' sport drew the Soviet Union into participation.

Terminators, Monkeys and Mass Culture: The carnival of time in science fiction films. Angela Dimitrakaki, Miltos Tsiantis. Our contention is that the current fascination with the time travel motif can be understood in terms of an oppositional cultural narrative running counter to dominant forms of temporality within capitalism. Such a reading allows us to negotiate the wide (mass) appeal of films based on the time travel motif without resorting to the primal scene fantasy. Our argument challenges the views which dismiss mass culture as merely escapist. Specifically, we argue that the potentially subversive element of time travel films lies precisely in a particular conceptualization and experience of time and history as cyclical and in flux.

Effective Democracy, Mass Culture, and the Quality of Elites: The Human Development Perspective - Christian Welzel. This article demonstrates that low corruption and high female representation are two characteristics of elite quality that go closely together and help make "formal" democracy increasingly "effective." However, the quality of elites is not an inherently independent phenomenon but is shaped by a pervasive mass factor: rising self-expression values that shift cultural norms toward greater emphasis on responsive and inclusive elites. Self-expression values, in turn, tend to be strengthened by growing human resources among the masses.

Cultural Preservation Reconsidered: The case of Canadian aboriginal art - B.R. Sharma. Hybrid art forms are emerging more than ever now that advances in global communication link the world's societies. James Clifford, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Valerie Dominguez and other eminent scholars champion such hybrid culture. They argue that it leads to greater acceptance of others and otherness, and destroys notions of 'others' as aesthetically unsophisticated. It argues that in some instances, such culture is the by-product of cultural imperialism - first-world socio-economic and cultural policies imposed on 'Second' and 'Third World' communities. The article concentrates on the dichotomy between native Canadian and Anglo-American Canadian mass culture and adopts Minh-Ha's claim that a First World and a Third World can exist in the same country.


During the latest years the so-called thick literary magazines and newspapers with a similar profile have actively criticized mass culture. In modern Russia, mass culture is diffused through and by mass-media, especially television foreign models and patterns predominate. The values and models of behavior disseminated by the mass media in Russia are those of success, family, human emotions, solidarity in the struggle against obstacles, romance.

In today’s Russia, mass culture is rejected by social groups who, in the process of disintegration of the Soviet system, are losing their authority and dominant position as the carriers of culture. Their claim is that mass culture is of low quality, that its significance is limited merely to entertaining, that it is not serious, that exposure to it makes people torpid and leads society to degradation, that its basis is the power of money, a Western notion, alien to the Russian culture.

Mass Culture (Glencoe, Ill. The Free Press.). Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White (1957) editors.