Sociology Index

Theodor Adorno

Among distinguished sociologists, Thedor Ludwig Adorno was one the foremost thinkers on aesthetics and philosophy, and a critic of both fascism and the 'cultural industries', a phenomenon of the modern society in which the masses are being fed what to do, buy or consume through mass campaigning and advertising, giving a sense of false contentment and pushing the citizens into mindless consumer culture. Theodor Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Theodor Adorno spent a great part of his life in his native Germany. Theodor Adorno argued that social theory had to maintain a critical edge.

The Authoritarian Personality is not only one of the most significant works of social psychology ever written, it also marks a milestone in the development of Adorno’s thought, showing him grappling with the problem of fascism and the reasons for Europe’s turn to reaction. Adorno attacked approaches used in social studies, those claiming to be scientific and quantitative, because they did not provide a basis for the transformation of society. Adorno is best known for his critique of mass culture in the modern world.

Theodor Adorno saw this as being purveyed by a culture industry and as manipulative of the masses. Adorno's works include: Prisms (1967), Dialectic of Enlightenment Project (1973), Minima Moralia (1974), and Negative Dialectics (1966). Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, co-wrote a detailed critique of the modern society and its depressing impact on the humans, which was titled the Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Thedor Adorno was influenced by Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Hegel. Thedor Adorno wrote extensively on human suffering in the modern society and believed that enlightenment was supposed to liberate human beings from all kinds of pain and suffering. Adorno championed avant-garde music at the same time as he critiqued the failings of musical modernity, as in the case of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, which he called in 1923 a "dismal Bohemian prank."