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This paper is an attempt to examine and to assess Adornoâ€™s theory of the â€œculture industryâ€ as it pertains to his underlying anthropology or account of human life. Ultimately, I believe this is of critical importance to any evaluation of Adornoâ€™s relevance and helpfulness for contemporary Christian theological ethics. The expository concern of this essay, contained in Part I, is to summarize Adornoâ€™s claims about the culture industry and to show its role within his project. Part II contains the twofold critical concern of this essay: 1) to describe the anthropological assumptions necessary for Adorno to assert that the culture industry can accomplish its vicious task and 2) to survey Adornoâ€™s analysis of jazz as a representative example of how his anthropology distorts his ability to hear one of the â€œmost characteristic forms of mass culture.â€ The concluding, constructive section, will present, as a counter-analysis, a theologically-informed â€œJazz Anthropologyâ€ that both refutes Adornoâ€™s reading of jazz and offers a better model for understanding key aspects of human life.My ultimate goal in this paper is to argue that, as we see in his analysis of jazz, the anthropological assumptions and commitments underlying Adornoâ€™s sweeping theory of the culture industry cause him to mis-hear, misunderstand, and mis-diagnose critical aspects of the society he hopes to free.
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