The Social Research Institute, founded at the University of Frankfurt in 1923, is known as the Frankfurt School, in short, in the social science literature. The Frankfurt School is also commonly referred to as Critical Theory. Especially, the analyses of Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973), Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), Leo Lowenthal (1900-1993) and Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) on culture, ideology and the media are very important. Representatives of this school conducted important studies in the period after World War II, mostly on fascism, authority, bureaucracy, technology, mass communication, culture industry, and art.
Adorno and Horkheimer analyze the place of post-industrial modernization in the 20th century, and the cultural transformation they witnessed as a result of cultural industries. According to the theorists, culture produced by cultural industries does not develop spontaneously, and it is a standardized and commodified culture aiming at reaching the widest masses. The consumers of this culture, which is far from being natural, and is quite artificial, are modern individuals who are the most loyal consumers of cultural industries. This situation, which can be defined as the simplification of the culture, is also called mass culture. Mass culture is a culture that belongs mainly to industrial capitalism, and is largely produced by mass media. It targets both more consumption and profit, as well as reproduction of capitalist values. According to the theorists, cultural products reduced to mass culture through the culture industry are standardized and distributed with rational techniques, and the buying motivation of the individuals is triggered through advertisement industry and they are constantly directed towards consumption. In short, the concept of “culture industry” refers to rationally organized-bureaucratic structures that considerably control and supervise modern culture, such as television networks. The structuring of cultural production in advanced capitalism has created a problem of uniformity that strikes everything (Adorno ve Horkheimer,1944: Ritzer, 1996; Mutman, 1995).