The essay is primarily concerned with examining the methodological aspects of Benjamin's distinct idea of materialist historiography, which I would call a critique of culture (Kulturkritik). By means of the notion of Kulturkritik, I want to differentiate Benjamin's account from a 'theory' of culture and to underline Benjamin's critical concern with the concept of 'culture'. In doing so, I aim to draw out its methodological imperatives for examining modernity as the spectacle. Furthermore, I also argue that Benjamin's critique of culture differs in significant ways from the Ideologiekritik developed by the early members of the Institut für Sozialforschung.
Walter Benjamin; culture criticism; phantasmagoria; commodity fetishism