The Culture Industry

"The culture industry, which involves the production of works for
reproduction and mass consumption, thereby organizing ‘free’ time,
the remnant domain of freedom under capital in accordance with the
same principles of exchange and equivalence that reign in the sphere of
production outside leisure, presents culture as the realization of the
right of all to the gratification of desire while in reality continuing the
negative integration of society."
"Today anyone who is incapable of talking in the prescribed
fashion, that is of effortlessly reproducing the formulas, conventions
and judgements of mass culture as if they were his own, is
threatened in his very existence, suspected of being an idiot or an
"The reason why people can actually do so little with their free time is that
the truncation of their imagination deprives them of the faculty which
made the state of freedom pleasurable in the first place. People have
been refused freedom, and its value belittled, for such a long time that
now people no longer like it. They need the shallow entertainment, by
means of which cultural conservatism patronizes and humiliates them,
in order to summon up the strength for work, which is required of
them under the arrangement of society which cultural conservatism
defends. This is one good reason why people have remained chained to
their work, and to a system which trains them for work, long after that
system has ceased to require their labour."

The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture