Cultural industry

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A cultural industry (sometimes used synonymously with creative industries)[1][2] is an economic field concerned with producing, reproducing, storing, and distributing cultural goods and services on industrial and commercial terms.[3]:21 In other words, this industry is one that engages, on a large scale, with goods and services that are cultural in nature—and usually protected by intellectual property rights—along economic considerations rather than for the purpose of cultural development.[3]

The term was first introduced by Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer in the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947),[3]:21 who chose this term in place of mass culture, which implies that such phenomenon "arises spontaneously from the masses themselves," like a culture; cultural industry excludes this notion and instead emphasizes that the phenomenon is manufactured.[4]:12


The notion of cultural industries generally includes textual, music, television, and film production and publishing,[2] as well as crafts and design. For some countries, such fields as architecture, the visual and performing arts, sport, advertising, and cultural tourism may be included as adding value to the content and generating values for individuals and societies. They are knowledge-based and labour-intensive, creating employment and wealth. By nurturing creativity and fostering innovation, societies will maintain cultural diversity and enhance economic performance.

Cultural industries worldwide have adapted to the new digital technologies and the introduction of national, regional and international (de)regulatory policies. These factors have radically altered the context in which cultural goods, services, and investments flow between countries and, consequently, these industries have undergone a process of internationalization and progressive concentration, resulting in the formation of a few big conglomerates: a new global oligopoly.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Exploring The Cultural and Creative Industries Debate". Culture Action Europe. February 2015. Retrieved 2020 September 26.
  2. ^ a b "Creative Industries | Culture." UNESCO. Archived from the original on 2009-08-26.
  3. ^ a b c UNESCO. [1980] 1982. Cultural Industries: A Challenge for the Future of Culture [PDF], (Meeting on the Place and Role of Cultural Industries in the Cultural Development of Societies). Montreal, QC: United Nations. ISBN 92-3-102003-X.
  4. ^ Adorno, Theodor W. 1975. "Culture Industry Reconsidered." New German Critique 6(Autumn):112-19. JSTOR 487650.

Further reading[edit]