Adorno, Theodor


Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing, Brazil

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs001

The German researcher Theodor W. Adorno (1903–69) was one of the leading theorists of the Frankfurt School, which conceived critical media theory and has had a wide influence in communication studies across the decades. In a classical context, Adorno developed a series of sophisticated studies in his capacity as an art critic, a philosopher, a sociologist, and a musicologist.

The context of the development of his most famous thesis about media phenomena is the social scene that culminated in World War II (1939–45). Of Jewish descent, Adorno left Germany to seek refuge in the United States, where he worked with Max Horkheimer. He was influenced by the spread of Nazism and its mobilizing power, strongly supported by the use of ideological propaganda. In the United States, he observed the spread of the media industry and the culture of the “American way of life,” finding similarities in how media communication influenced the political, ideological, and commercial strategies of those in positions of power. With experience of these two scenarios, he was stimulated to build a theory that criticized up front the domination of the people by the ideological apparatuses of their time.

Along with Horkheimer, Adorno wrote Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), in which the concept of the culture industry is developed. With Marxist theory as a backdrop, Adorno and Horkheimer's critical ...

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