The Frankfurt school describes the social and cultural theorists who worked for or were connected with, the Frankfurt institution for social research. Their method, known as a critical theory, has influenced the study of mass culture and elements of feminist, postmodernist and postcolonial theory. The institute was founded in 1923, at its inception, it was very much a product of the cultural freedom and political struggles of the German Weimer Republic. Key members of the institute were Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno. Walter Benjamin was an important associate. Along with Gramsci’s writings; critical theory forms the main body of Western Marxism. Influenced by the ideas of Marx and Freud, it resists systematic, universal explanations of cultural and social phenomena.
Members of the Frankfurt school, in particular, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (in Dialectic of Enlightenment) developed an analysis of the part played by the superstructure in accounting for the failure of the revolutionary social change that Marx had predicted. They focused on the role played by mass culture, or what they preferred to call the culture industry in securing the incorporation of the working class into capitalist society. Through radio, tv, movies, and forms of popular music like jazz, the expanding ruling-class ideologies with greater effectiveness than Marx could have envisaged. The further development of consumer society in the twentieth century powerfully aided the process of working-