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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The sweeping social critique found in the work of the Frankfurt School critical theorists—Adorno, Horkheimer, and Marcuse—is intentionally provocative; total, personal, and uncompromising. This chapter examines the ways in which this critique has evolved as part of contemporary organizational and social theory, for example in the field of ‘critical management studies’. It sketches the historical and intellectual origins of Frankfurt School critical theory, from Marx to Lukács and Freud, as well as outlining its key analytical approaches. This leads to an exploration of the Frankfurt analysis of modern culture and society—from Hollywood films to the politics of organization. After examining the role critical theory has played in the development of the study of organization and society, as well as some possible criticisms of it, the chapter concludes with a discussion of possibilities for Frankfurt inspired organizational and social research into the future.

Keywords: Adorno, critical management studies, critical theory, Frankfurt School, Horkheimer, Marcuse

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