In this paper, he discusses the role of culturel in relation to the present age of "barbarism." He makes the important statement that in the age that has produces barbaric events such as Auschwitz, cultural activities such as the writing of poetry are no longer possible. By this he implies that the age that produces barbaric events can no longer act as if their cultural products or creations are exempt from the responsibility for these events. Therefore, to assume that one can continue to write poetry and engage in other cultural activities is "impossible."
If we unpack these views, we find that what Adorno is referring to is the underling way of thought or the submerged ideologies that are not "visible" but which tend to shape, motivate and determine the cultural output. In other words, Adorno in this article draws our attention to the underlying "forces" that exist in Western culture that allowed horrendous events like Auschwitz to occur. He is suggesting that there is a deep ideological substratum that permeates Western culture that must be revealed or deconstructed before we can engage in meaningful cultural activities.
The article also refers to the way in which these forces are largely invisible in Western society and are therefore not often seen or understood on a conscious level. This refers to the idea of reality as a construct created by the dialectics and discourse in society.
Conversely and importantly, this also means that Western culture has the ability to reveal this underlying context and to eradiate those elements that have been responsible for the increasing barbarism in Western culture. Therefore, Adorno is of the view that we have the power to alter Western culture from within; and that the culture of Western society should be changed or altered by the revealing and reevaluating of the context of the past.
Another important aspect is that Adorno identifies this underlying force in Western culture with the movement within western society towards the increasing commodification of all things into products. In this way people lose there human identity and are dealt with as products and mere elements of commercial value.
1. Is a theory of ideology necessary to explain social behavior?
I believe that a theory of ideology is extremely important means of explaining social behavior. As many studies have shown, ideology functions in society as an intricate and determining facet of the way that that society perceives and comprehends reality. Many actions and values are motivated by certain ideologies. One need only consider the ideology of capitalism and the ethics involved in this ideology to see the significance of a study of this ideology in understanding the Western world.
2. If sociology is the study of social action, and social action is behavior to which actors give meaning and meanings are embedded in discourse, does this mean the task of sociology is the study of discourses?
In one sense, the above statement is correct. The study of discourse within society and the various ideals and ideologies that affect that society, are extremely important in understanding the reason why people act in society in certain ways. However, on the other hand, one cannot limit the study of society to the study of discourse; there are many other structural and subjective areas that should also be considered.
3. What is meant by the "sociology of knowledge"?
In essence, the sociology of Knowledge refers to a study of the way that social knowledge is created, produced and maintained in a given society; as well as the study of the concomitant factors that affect the creation and distribution of knowledge in society. This includes factors such as whether certain types of knowledge are privileged over others.
4. What is the link between ideology and common sense?
Ideology is a form of "common sense" in that it is usually related directly to the domain of ideology. In other words, a study of common sense is often related to the dominant ideologies, value structures and ethical patterns in a given society.
5. How is the notion of habitus related to the sociology of knowledge?
This notion is extremely important as it refers to the habitual mode of thinking and action in a society. In order to fully understand the mode of knowledge and knowledge creation and maintenance in a society, one has to be cognizant of the habitual mode or modes of seeing and perceiving, which…