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Media and the Making of Modern GermanyMass Communications, Society, and Politics from the Empire to the Third Reich$
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Corey Ross

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278213.001.0001

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Attempting Reform: Legitimation, Education, and Uplifting Tastes

Attempting Reform: Legitimation, Education, and Uplifting Tastes

(p.87) 3 Attempting Reform: Legitimation, Education, and Uplifting Tastes
Media and the Making of Modern Germany

Corey Ross (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the other principal way in which cultural elites engaged with the rise of the mass media: namely efforts to reform mass culture itself. It considers the diverse attempts — ranging across the political spectrum — to harness film, radio, the phonograph, and advertising for the purpose of ‘educating’ and ‘uplifting’ popular tastes. Closely related to this project were a variety of avant-garde efforts to synthesize ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, and to legitimate the new media in the eyes of cultural elites themselves. The response of German elites was therefore more complex than the common emphasis on ‘cultural pessimism’ suggests. It is shown that however ‘progressive’ such efforts appeared or were intended to be, they, too, essentially reflected a patriarchal and authoritarian view of the audiences — the dangerous ‘masses’.

Keywords:   avant garde, conservatives, democratization, edification, education, legitimation, progressives, reform, taste, universal art

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