Baudrillard: New Means of Consumption and Extreme Postmodern Social Theory

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Jean Baudrillard

  • Born in France in 1929
  • He was a Professor of Sociology in Paris
  • Outspoken Marxist views
  • Radical postmodern theorist
  • Rejected the idea of disciplinary boundaries
  • Started his studies in 1960s


  • His first book, The System of Objects, 1968
  • The Consumer Society, 1970
  • For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, 1972
  • Symbolic Exchange and Death, 1976
  • The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers, 2002

Extreme Postmodern Social Theory

  • Marxian critique of consumer society
  • New means of consumption
  • His approach was productivity based
  • Today՚s times, consumption > production in terms of importance
  • Later, he rejected Marx՚s ideas
  • In 1975, he wrote The Mirror of Production
  • Reflected a mirror image of political economy
  • He argued that Marx was infected by the virus of bourgeois thought
  • He sought for a radical orientation in lines with the new society and argued that ‘work’ and ‘value’ are not the only parameters in society today
  • Symbolic exchange against economic exchange
  • Symbolic exchange – a cycle of gifts and counter gifts
  • It opposes capitalism
  • Aim to create a society characterized by this cycle of exchange

Views on Contemporary Society

  • Society is not dominated by mode of production anymore
  • Rather by media, IT, knowledge, information, Industries, etc.
  • Code of production dominates now
  • Shift from exploitation to domination of signs and systems
  • Signs are self-referential
  • Difficult to tell what is real
  • “Distinction between signs is reality has imploded.”
  • A shift from differentiation to dedifferentiation


Q. 1. Who is of the view that the post-modern age is a world where people respond to media images rather than to real persons or places?

i. Baudrillard

ii. Jameson

iii. Castells

iv. Kellner

Answer: i. Baudrillard

Q. 2. According to Baudrillard, we live in a world

i. With less information and more meaning

ii. With more information but with less meaning

iii. Where there is more use value of signs

iv. None of these

Answer: ii. With more information but with less meaning

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