Frankfurt School

Frankfurt School
(or Frankfurt Institute)
   officially the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research), a private foundation affiliated with the University of Frankfurt. Founded in 1923 with help from several en-dowments, the school began functioning in 1924 under the directorship of Carl Grünberg, a university sociologist. In his inaugural lecture Grünberg indicated that he envisioned the school as a Marxist-oriented research center that would investigate all aspects of social life. Rather than training "sterile positivists," who became "mandarins of the state," Grünberg proposed to accent a form of constructive criticism that might transform both state and society. Recognizing life as a totality, the school aimed to synthesize sociology, cultural studies, psychology, philosophy, and economics, thereby identifying the material inter-dependence between society s economic, political, and cultural foundations. It was composed principally of leftist Hegelians, and its principal minds viewed the Republic as but a necessary step to true socialism.
   When illness forced Grunberg's retirement in 1931, leadership passed to Max Horkheimer.* Horkheimer, who had inspired the school s founding, energized it, largely by establishing the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. In addition to Horkheimer's philosophical contributions, the Zeitschrift (abruptly discontinued in 1933) published the social psychology of Erich Fromm, Henryk Grossmann s ideas on Karl Marx, Leo Loewenthal's sociology of literature, and Theodor Adorno's* reflections on the sociology of music. Herbert Marcuse, Walter Ben-jamin,* Franz Neumann, Paul Lazarsfeld, and Otto Kirchheimer lectured at the school while doing research and writing reviews. All aimed to demonstrate the material interdependence between economics, politics, and culture.
   Fascism was the school s chief focus in the 1930s; investigation into why individuals submitted to authoritarian regimes culminated in 1936 in the two-volume Studien über Autoritat und Familie. By then the school was no longer in Germany; as most members were either of Jewish ancestry or Marxists (often both), they fled upon Hitler's* seizure of power. Going first to Switzerland, the majority emigrated in 1934 to New York and there affiliated with Columbia University. By this point the school was narrowly focused on its "critical the-ory of society. The school was split by the strain of war and intellectual dif-ferences; some of the faculty, led by Horkheimer and Adorno, returned to Frankfurt in 1949 to reestablish the German school.
   REFERENCES:Bottomore, Frankfurt School; Jay, Dialectical Imagination; Marcus and Tar, Foundations; George Mosse, German Jews beyond Judaism; Wiggershaus, Frankfurt School.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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