Unit 7 Discussion
Describe Adorno's views on standardization and pseudo
According to Adorno, the capitalist character of society encourages individuals to
engage in "false needs"
the urge to spend money in return for enjoyment. Adorno
developed his standardization theory. Following this argument, in a capitalist society,
popular culture (and thus, popular music) is standardized and uses a set formula to
appeal to the public.
Looking at music, for example, Adorno observed that the verse, chorus, and bridge
were essential parts of all popular music and could be changed without the song
appearing inferior (Darbyshire, 2011). According to Adorno, the music industry
encouraged "pseudo-individualism" to conceal the formulaic nature of music from the
public. Adorno's criticisms of pseudo-individualization extend to the point that it
misleads listeners and consumers into thinking they have various options. The public
receives what the music industry wants to market. Adorno's critique suggests that
pseudo-individualization may be utilized to cover up conformity (Tappin, 2016).
Share a unique example from pop culture (movies, songs, books, etc.) that
follows this structure (do not reiterate the same criteria shared by classmates).
The songs "Really Don't Care" by Demi Lovato and "I Love It" by the Swedish group
Icona Pop are examples of this musical theory. According to Adorno's thesis, the songs'
ability to look "fresh and improved" somehow conceals the evident eternal sameness
(Darbyshire, 2011). Another example in music could be various country songs that use
the same melody throughout the song. A few examples are songs like "Sure Be Cool if
You Did" by Blake Shelton, "Drunk on You" by Luke Bryan, or "This is How We Roll" by
Florida Georgia Line.
Do you find merit in or agree with Adorno's theory of popular culture?
I can't say that I concur or disagree with Adorno's thesis. Though I believe the theory
had greater significance when it was developed in 1941, I think it still has some
relevance from a sociological standpoint when examining the problems with
contemporary mass media. It is easy to see that mass media and popular music, as
products of industry culture, would exhibit some sign of uniformity and pseudo-
individualization. The music industry is making money; therefore, it is plausible that as
music has evolved and the sounds of the decades have changed, new songs may adopt a
hit song's sound. I like to imagine it as a way for artists to support one another or pay
tribute to their inspirations. Because of copyright rules, everything must be done and
produced with great care to prevent lawsuits.