Mass Culture (or “pop culture”) is the product made by the Cultural Industry. It aims to reach the social mass, considering “mass” in its sense of cohesion and opacity.
Therefore, mass culture is the means and the end by which the most varied cultural expressions are subjected to a common and homogeneous ideal.
Mass culture has the property of absorbing antagonisms and transcending social, ethnic, sexual, age, etc. distinctions, turning them into consumer products in a world of free consumers.
Mass Culture and Cultural Industry
Mass culture is closely linked to the advent of modernity. In the nineteenth century, this term was used to antagonize the education received by the masses to the education received by the elites (erudite culture).
The term “mass culture” has also come to mean the consumption of some goods and services of industrialized society.
The term as it stands today, especially for its commercial and manipulative nature, was consolidated after World War II.
Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) founded the Frankfurt School (1923) and together coined the term “Cultural Industry”.
This term refers to the large global media conglomerates that own the mass media. They are used in the standardization of products, news, services, etc.
In short, pasta culture is a standardized and pre-defined product for immediate consumption. It is often considered trivial, such as listening to a song or watching a television program.
Classical Culture and Popular Culture
Remember that mass culture is very distinct from ” classical culture” and ” popular culture”. However, it incorporates its attributes, trivializing them and emptying them of their original content.
This is because it values only those aspects that taste like pasta and have the potential for profit. Thus, it oppresses other cultural manifestations that are gradually losing space and social legitimation.
Mass Culture and Capitalism
As we have seen, pasta culture standardizes and homogenizes products. However, this has the same effect on consumers, who are induced to superficial wants and needs. All of this has a very clear goal: sales and consumption.
In this way the vast range of erudite culture, popular and folk culture is replaced by simulations of these authentic cultures. These simulations must satisfy a common denominator for a common consumer.
This suggests the simplification of these cultures to sell them on a large scale, according to the logic of industrial and financial capitalism.
Mass culture is assumed to please a large and anonymous amorphous majority of consumers. But, in fact, it masks the interests of easy and guaranteed profit for these world media conglomerates.
Therefore, this explains the mercantile, alienating and manipulative character of the Cultural Industry. She is primarily responsible for standardizing individuals for the sake of profit and to the detriment of the product’s true artistic value.
Mass Culture and the Media
Another well-known fact about mass culture is its association with the mass media.
Technological innovations such as cinema, radio, television and recently the internet have further accelerated the process of cultural homogenization. Note that these innovations have been used since the earliest days for political purposes.
The media are the spokespersons of the Cultural Industry and dominate the field of communication. They become overvalued in relation to the message recipients, legitimizing themselves and becoming stronger as the recipients become equal and weak.
In addition to homogenizing cultural patterns, media channels are primarily responsible for alienating consumers.
This is all through the series cultural products, which can no longer see the entire chain of events involving the Cultural Industry and its product: mass culture.