Reflections on Bolaño’s Culture Industry

  • Thomas Klikauer University of Western Sydney
Keywords: culture industry, information, capitalism, advertisement, ideology


Bolaño’s study of the culture industry builds on Adorno and Horkheimer’s “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” linking it to Habermas’ and Enzensberger’s work. The key to Bolaño is the working out of the double task of what might be called “media capitalism”, namely merging the circulation of commodities through marketing and advertising to the ideological task of pro-capitalist propaganda that, at least ideologically sustains capitalism. Significantly, this double task occurs through “the same channels” of communication as Bolaño argues and is, at least, institutionally set up through an interest symbiosis between corporations that manufacture and sell commodities and media corporations. Both are organisations dedicated to shareholder-value and profit-maximisation. Using the example of the most eminent technological innovation during the post World War period (televison), Bolaño shows how and why capitalism can no longer simply be capitalism but—as a structural imperative—has to rely on the media. With that, even corporate mass media become part of the system of “media capitalism”. Bolaño sets the key tasks of future theory development in the area of capitalism and communication, namely the development of the comprehensive theory of media capitalism.

Reflections (Non Peer-Reviewed)