Jean Baudrillard

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Baudrillard, Jean,

1929–2007, French social theorist and cultural critic. Trained as a sociologist, he taught at the Univ. of Paris X, Nanterre, from 1966 to 1987 and was a prolific writer. Influenced by MarxismMarxism,
economic and political philosophy named for Karl Marx. It is also known as scientific (as opposed to utopian) socialism. Marxism has had a profound impact on contemporary culture; modern communism is based on it, and most modern socialist theories derive from it (see
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, Roland BarthesBarthes, Roland
, 1915–80, French critic. Barthes was one of the founding figures in the theoretical movement centered around the journal Tel Quel. In his earlier works, such as Writing Degree Zero (tr. 1953) and Mythologies (1957, tr.
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, Thorstein VeblenVeblen, Thorstein
, 1857–1929, American economist and social critic, b. Cato Township, Wis. Of Norwegian parentage, he spent his first 17 years in Norwegian-American farm communities. After studying at Carleton College and at Johns Hopkins, Yale (where he received a Ph.D.
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, Marshall McLuhanMcLuhan, Marshall
(Herbert Marshall McLuhan), 1911–80, Canadian communications theorist and educator, b. Edmonton, Alta. He taught at the Univ. of Toronto (1946–80) and at other institutions of higher education in Canada and the United States.
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, and others, he began as a critic of the consumer society, arguing in such works as The System of Objects (1968, tr. 1996), The Mirror of Production (1973), and Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976, tr. 1993) that the individual acquires meaning though objects, which are valued for their symbolic cultural significance (rather than their usefulness or monetary worth) and the world is marked the implosion of economics, politics, art, sexuality, and spheres of life, causing them to intermingle and interrelate in a confused, uncontrolled manner. Baudrillard subsequently developed a theory of media-saturated, late-capitalist technological consumer societies that saw them as characterized by simulation and hyperreality, in which the "real world" has been supplanted by artificially intensified substitutions for it and individuals are overwhelmed by the power of hyperreal objects. These ideas were developed in such works as Simulation and Simulacra (1981, tr. 1994), and Fatal Strategies (1983, tr. 1990). His later works reject critique in favor of a more aphoristic—at times, oracular—philosophical approach that is often intentionally provocative in its discussion of how appearance and illusion replace reality and truth in contemporary society. Thus The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991, tr. 1995) argues that the Persian Gulf War was more a media spectacle than a genuine war and in The Perfect Crime (1995, tr. 1996) he plays detective and investigates the "murder" of reality.


See selected writings ed. by M. Poster (2d ed. 2001); studies by D. Kellner (1989, 1990) and as ed. (1994), B. Turner (1993), N. Zurbrugg, ed. (1997), R. Butler (1999), and P. Hegarty (2004).

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Baudrillard, Jean

(1929-) French social theorist who, in works such as La Société de consommation (1970) and Simulations (1983), has been influential in POSTMODERNISM. Baudrillard draws particularly on SEMIOLOGY to argue that modern-day consumption in particular entails the ‘active manipulation of SIGNS’, so that in modern society the production of the sign and the commodity have come together to produce the commodity-sign. An endless reduplication of signs, images and SIMULATIONS, launched through the media and elsewhere, in the end effaces all distinction between image and reality. The overproduction of such signs, images and simulations has the effect of producing a ‘loss of stable meaning’, which is advanced as a characteristic of POSTMODERNITY. See also HYPERREALITY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Baudrillard, Jean (1995b): The Gulf War Did Not Take Place.
Baudrillard, Jean (1997): For a Critique of the Political Economy of Sign.
Baudrillard, Jean (1994), Simulacra and Simulation.
Baudrillard, Jean (1988), "Simulacra and Simulations," in Jean Baudrillard.
(3.) Drawing on theories explored in Baudrillard, Jean, Fragments.
Baudrillard, Jean. "History: A Retro Scenario." Simulacra and Simulation.
BAUDRILLARD, Jean (avec Enrique Valiente Noailles).