Alternative media can take one of many forms – radical media, ethnic or racial media, student media, subcultural media, and indigenous media among other forms. Viewed from either perspective, the underpinnings of alternative media are significantly influenced by the Frankfurt School’s critical social theory.
In terms of organization of the paper, the author first provides background information on the Frankfurt School and their critical social theory. In the second section, alternative media as a form of anti-capitalism is discussed. Next is an examination of alternative media as a representation of subcultures. Finally, the author concludes the paper by recapitulating the main ideas in the paper.
“The Frankfurt School” of Critical Social Theory started out in Germany at the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research in 1923. The Institute was founded and initially funded by Felix Weil, a young wealthy Marxist thinker. The goal of the Institute was to consolidate different orientations of Marxist thinking into one research center. The Institute’s philosophy was guided by three major historical events: (1) the failed take off of a revolution by Europes working class as predicted by Marx, (2) the emergence and rise of Nazism and (3) the emergence of mass production and consumption, often referred to as “Fordism”, after Henry Ford’s mass production of automobiles at his factory(Geuss, 1981). Marx had not anticipated these or similar events. Thus, Frankfurt School thinkers found it necessary to redevelop Marxist thinking in a bid to make sense of the new social conditions.
Max Horkheimer first outlined the critical social theory, or simply the critical theory, in his 1937 book Traditional and Critical Theory.