Frankfurt School

Frankfurt School, a group of researchers associated with the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute of Social Research), founded in 1923 as an autonomous division of the Univ. of Frankfurt. The institute's first director, Carl Grünberg, set it up as a center for research in philosophy and the social sciences from a Marxist perspective. After Max Horkheimer took over as director in 1930, the focus widened. Leading members, such as Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Herbert Marcuse, influenced by aspects of psychoanalysis and existentialism, developed a version of Marxism known as "critical theory." They formulated influential aesthetic theories and critiques of capitalist culture. In 1933 they fled the Nazis and settled in the United States, where they found a haven at Columbia Univ. Later they had a role in the formulation of postwar sociological theory. After their period of exile, the institute returned (1949) to Frankfurt, where Jürgen Habermas became its most prominent figure.

See M. Jay, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923–1950 (1973, repr. 1996); R. Geuss, The Idea of a Critical Theory: Habermas and the Frankfurt School (1981); R. Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School (1994); T. Wheatland, The Frankfurt School in Exile (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Frankfurt School: Selected full-text books and articles

The Frankfurt School and Its Critics
Tom Bottomore.
Routledge, 2002
The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers
Eduardo Mendieta.
Routledge, 2004
Critical Theory and Political Possibilities: Conceptions of Emancipatory Politics in the Works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermas
Joan Alway.
Greenwood Press, 1995
Critical Theory and the Sociology of Knowledge: A Comparative Study in the Theory of Ideology
Leon Bailey.
Peter Lang, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The Origins and Development of the Frankfurt School's Critical Theory of Society"
Culture and Critique: An Introduction to the Critical Discourses of Cultural Studies
Jere Paul Surber.
Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School"
An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture
Dominic Strinati.
Routledge, 2004 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Frankfurt School and the Culture Industry"
Pedagogy and the Politics of Hope: Theory, Culture, and Schooling: A Critical Reader
Henry A. Giroux.
Westview Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Culture and Rationality in Frankfurt School Thought: Ideological Foundations for a Theory of Social Education"
From Neo-Marxism to Democratic Theory: Essays on the Critical Theory of Soviet-Type Societies
Andrew Arato.
M. E. Sharpe, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Authoritarian Socialism and the Frankfurt School"
Beyond the Enlightenment: Lives and Thoughts of Social Theorists
Roger A. Salerno.
Praeger, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "The Frankfurt School: Horkheimer and Adorno"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator