Austin Bitterman

Digital capitalism

Faculty Mentor: Stephen Klemm, Comparative Studies in Literature & Culture Department

Major: Comparative Studies in Literature & Culture

Funding: Arnston Memorial Essay Award

The intent of my summer research has been to develop a critical understanding of recent developments in mass media in relation to broader capitalist structures and its role in the (re)production of ideology. To explore this topic I read primary and secondary texts on the Frankfurt school, drawing from my previous studies on the works of Karl Marx, Althusser,Foucoult, Baudrillard, and Sartre as well as my first hand experience as a millennial born into the internet age. The Frankfurt school was a group of intellectuals who came together following WWI , first arising at the University of Frankfurt although many soon sought refuge in the United States. Notable thinkers include Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and Erich Fromme, however this paper will mostly focus on some of the work of Theodore Adorno, Jurgen Habermas, and Herbert Mascuse.Through reconstructing some of the thoughts of these thinkers I will show how a capitalist recoding of the cultural sphere has contributed to the dissemination of ideology and made the use of reason so rare that Marcuse will suggest free speech is no longer a right, but often acts as an inherently oppressive force.

Watch my research presentation below.

Questions or comments? Contact me at:


View the presentation slideshow