An essay on cultural criticism and society in prisms p.34

Adorno returned to Frankfurt, becoming a member of the city's Institut which tried to address current social issues. Before long Germany's prevailing political movement prompted many of the group to seek exile, and by the end of the war, the majority had become citizens of the United States. Adorno chose to spend the 1930s in England, continuing his studies and teaching at Oxford, however, he was missed by his colleagues in the Institut and was finally convinced to join them to renew their cultural studies in America, and in particular, the rise of mass culture. Adorno vehemently criticized twentieth century popular music, with its standardized, repetitive structure that "is regarded as the absolute criterion of social truth," and its insistence upon conformity. In Introduction to the Sociology of Music, he wrote: "popular music constitutes the dregs of musical history." What were the reasons for his analysis, and what did he see in jazz that made it so problematic for society?

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Foucault's work has given rise to increased methodological sensitivity of the political dangers associated with traditional qualitative approaches in the social sciences. There is a growing awareness that the widespread use of the research interview is not indicative of a deepening insight into the workings of culture, but is part of a broader social technology for its reproduction. In an effort to re-imagine interview methodology, scholars have read Foucault to suggest the need for greater attention to the active co-construction of research conclusions arising from interview based research. This has led in turn to the view that post modern approaches produce localized, temporally specific knowledge that fails to shed light on deeper, more enduring social structures. This paper questions these interpretations of Foucault's work, arguing that they fail to accurately represent his genealogical method or to consider its implications for research ethics. Foucault rejects a view of knowledge as emerging from the active social constructions of agents or of institutionalised ‘interests’. Rather, Foucault sees knowledge as an outcome, often accidental, of interrelated historical practices and discourses that produce the subjects and objects of social science discourse itself. The implications of Foucault's work for thinking about research ethics is not a return to authenticity or to analyses of social structure, but a rejection of the centralised, regulatory claims of an organised scientific discourse. The paper comprises a review of social science responses to post structural insights, coverage of the critical epistemological differences between Foucault's method and other key social theory paradigms, and a discussion of the critical ethical issues these differences raise for the social sciences.

Adorno in his essay 'Cultural Criticism and Society' from Prisms.

Adorno perceived a lack of authentic talent in the popular forms of music which equated singers with the ability to speak and their capacity for performing in front of audiences. The prima donnas and the castrati, with their artistic virtuosity belonged to an earlier epoch and no longer had a place in the music industry. Likewise, Adorno saw a change in the music connoisseur whose reason for attending concerts was the cultural importance of being seen at the 'right' performance rather than the pleasure of listening ­ the musical event was transformed into a means. The fact the price of the ticket could be afforded was far more important and constituted a worshiping of status, over and above the joy and privilege of attending a musical event. Does music even entertain anymore? Adorno certainly believed it no longer had the ability and instead, merely complemented the death of expressive speech and humanity's tendency towards non-communication. He wrote of the "pockets of silence" that are so prevalent in society and admitted that "if nobody can any longer speak, then certainly nobody can any longer listen."

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Many aspects of Adorno's work are relevant today and have beendeveloped in many strands of contemporary critical theory, mediatheory, and sociology. Thinkers influenced by Adorno believe thattoday's has evolvedin a direction foreseen by him, especially in regard to the past(), or the CultureIndustry. The latter has become a particularly productive, yethighly contested term in . Many of Adorno'sreflections on aesthetics and music have only just begun to bedebated, as a collection of essays on the subject, many of whichhad not previously been translated into English, has only recentlybeen collected and published as Essays on Music.

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Adorno's theoretical method is closely related to hisunderstanding of music and and othercontemporary composers' atonal (less so "")techniques (Adorno had studied composition for several years with), whichchallenged the hierarchical nature of traditional in composition. Foreven if "the whole is untrue", for Adorno we retain the ability toform partial critical conceptions and submit them to a test as weprogress towards a "higher" awareness. This role of a criticalconsciousness was a common concern in the prior tothe Second World War, and demanded that composers relate to thetraditions more as a canon of taboos rather than as a canon ofmasterpieces that should be imitated. For the composer (poet,artist, philosopher) of this era, every work of art or thought wasthus likely to be shocking or difficult to understand. Only throughits "corrosive unacceptability" to the commercially-definedsensibilities of the middle class could new art hope to challengedominant cultural assumptions.

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Alban Berg, along with Anton von Webern, were the principal students of Arnold Schoenberg, the founder of the Second Viennese School, a successor to the old romantic school of Viennese composers. Berg was a steadfast disciple and friend of Schoenberg, helping him to organize the Society for Private Performances in Vienna which prohibited music critics and applause. Adorno considered his teacher a figure of humanity, "who desired much, but hoped for nothing; having very little to lose and even less to fear." Berg's early pieces reflected the influence of Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler, and later, Schoenberg's influence developed the composer into a revolutionary of 'new music'. Adorno described his teacher's music as structurally non-traditional, with a tendency towards particularization and disintegration: "it strives toward a threshold value bordering on nothingness." His music was seen as radically new because of this simultaneous double movement of continual construction and perpetual decay: its life and death composition. Berg's music expressed his personal preoccupation with death and the awareness he possessed of its imminence.