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Contemporary Theorist Jean Baudrillard



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    Contemporary Theorist Jean Baudrillard

    Jean Baudrillard was an eminent figure among great French intellectuals, and good-humor thinker, who accomplished outstanding inventiveness and understanding in his interdisciplinary combination of sociology, culture studies, media theory, political economy, semiotics and psychoanalysis, which contribute to a thoughtful reflection on consumerist age. Jean Baudrillard tried to present a new theoretical framework which would challenge many of the structuralism and modernist doctrine of classical Marxist political economy and social theory. This paper focuses on biographical sketch of Jean Baudrillard and major work he contributed that has profound influence on society.  The most important philosophical movement this century which came into view from his project has been the postmodernism and post-structuralism.  Jean Baudrillard, with his famous and brilliantly discomfiting books such as Simulacres et Simulation challenged and extended the gaps, negations, extremes and sarcasms in traditions and humanity (Horrocks, 2007). Jean Baudrillard’s major theories about consumer culture and the manufactured nature of reality were intensely were matter of discussion in rarefied idealistic circles (Cohen, 2007).

    Mr. Baudrillard was born in 1929 in Reims. His parents were farmers.  In his family, he was the first person to attend a university. He became an associate of a small caste of distinguished and dominant French intellectuals who attained international eminence besides facing lots of complexity of his work (Cohen, 2007). Mr. Baudrillard career began as a book reviewer of German and Italian literature for Les temps modernes in the early 1960s. He joined university in Paris and obtained a doctorate in the field of sociology while teaching German to high school students (Genosko, 1994). He wrote a doctoral thesis disagreeing with Roland Barthes that the recently developing consumer society in postwar Europe was a potential catastrophe. In 1966, he took up the position of assistant lecturer at the Université de Nanterre (Université de Paris X) in Paris. Baudrillard was linked with the sociology of urbanism group around the journal Utopie during 1967 and into the 1970s. He was attached to the founding editorial board of the cultural theory journal Traverses of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1975 (Genosko, 1994). In 1987, he was retired from his teaching position. Jean Baudrillard had been high-flier in French academic group for thirty years. It seems he boomed in this conservatory of innovative thoughts which made him unique among many of his colleagues. He died on March 6, 2007, at a time when his theoretical work was conceivably at its slightest trendy, but most imperative (Horrocks, 2007).  While working on the doctoral thesis, Baudrillard’s teamwork with Lefebvre brought him momentarily under the swing of a world-shattering group called the Situationist International and its compelling leader, Guy Debord. Baudrillard learned the belief from situationists that routine life had been reduced to a number of “spectacles”, non-events that, day news, were somehow far from the actual experience of the spectator.  Lefebvre had made his repute in 1947 with the publication of his Critique of Everyday Life, in which, taking the young Marx and the surrealists as his models, he squabbled that the commonplace experience of ordinary people was the main stumbling block for theoreticians of the revolutionary left. This insight leaves a vital influence on early theoretical career of Baudrillard (Hussey, 2003). Baudrillard stated the fact first time in the history of philosophical work that human beings were no longer participants in their own lives. He barbed out in his one write up “What Are You Doing After the Orgy?”, the connotation of the liberating forces of modernism  sexual and racial liberation, freedom of speech, the abolition of class differences  that have been well incorporated into the “society of spectacle”, where they have become the conflicting of what they had initially symbolized (Hussey, 2003).

    Baudrillard conveyed important aspect of life to our society from his thoughtful writings. He dedicated his work to our present, unceasing fall down, that he sensed was more a crisis of a theatrical but ignored transformation in our affiliation to a revolutionary international society.  Baudrillard’s described in his essays that in our cosmos codes and signs coercively produce and designate our societies and cultures as simulations that fabricate our adaptations of authenticity (Horrocks, 2007). Jean Baudrillard wanted to present an understanding of the innovative frenzied form of advanced capitalism and technology which came out through the effective and simulated character of modern experience. In The Consumer Society, Jean Baudrillard delineated how consumers buy into the “code” of signs rather than the meaning of the object itself. His scrutiny of the process by which the sign ceases indicating towards an object which lies behind it, but rather to other signs which collectively comprise a unified yet disorganized code, concludes in the “murder of reality” (Baudrillard, 1968).  In Baudrillard’s work, a general theory of two fundamental social forms is represented. It has been said that he had attempted to rewrite Durkheim’s two basic social formations. It has been observed that primitive societies are not civilized. Their societies are existed in the emblematic, and in symbolic exchange. “Theirs is a society of ‘us’ and outsiders. Ours is a widespread society of the human. It is the latter universe which stringently speaking is ‘culture’, and its other is the merciless.” Baudrillard expanded this dissimilarity through gradually more sweeping forms. Baudrillard tried to explain his thoughts, in a toughened manner, is to live in a world in which God has left either because He has died or because He has turned his back on it? Baudrillard maintains figurative forms alive, and his betrayal is practiced towards the present. His description about the pathos is not as strong as compared to Holderli. Baudrillard continued to be faithful to the thought of the symbolic order at the critical period of theoretical development. In 1976, he suggested that the symbolic is neither a concept, nor an instance or a category, nor a ‘structure’, but an act of exchange and a social relation which puts an end to the real, which resolves the real, and in the same stroke the opposition between the real and the imaginary.

    Jean Baudrillard is illustrious for his ideas of “simulation” and “hyperreality”, these terms he uses to portray a world in which, as he sees it, images have reinstates realism to the amount that objective reality about any human understanding from art to war has become unfeasibility. He uses the common and popular terms “simulacra” and “simulation” to express the way reality is replicated and obliterated, particularly in the verbal communication of the media, advertising and marketing. He delivered many speeches on the ‘Social Problems of Design’ at the Chambre de Commerce de Reims, and on ‘The Critique of the Concept of Environment’ at the Institut de l’Environnement in Paris. He squabbled that the place of expenditure in the new consumer society is everyday life. Social life is intervened and radically separated by a controlled judgment of commodities in which consumption do not follow principles of reality and the contentment of needs. He viewed modern consumers as cyberneticians who occupied in a calculus of objects which have been freethinking from their functions and materiality. Criticizing the ideas of Lefebvre, he asserted that uprising was impracticable at the level of a total system which believes and talks of itself through consumption (Baudrillard, 1968a, 1969a). Baudrillard described the stage in which commodities are instantly produced as signs and signs as commodities by representing the homology between material and sign production. In Le Miroir de la production (1973), Baudrillard was dissimilar to Marxism with an argument that its categories reflect the capitalist mode of production and are simply reliant upon bourgeois political economy. Baudrillard disapprove of structural Marxist anthropology because it explains its own categories, without significantly converting them onto primitive’ societies. He criticized their explanation to strong his theory of primitive societies which was based upon symbolic exchange. This concept was adapted by Baudrillard from Georges Bataille’s notion of a general anti-productivist economy of expenditure and Marcel Mauss’s analysis of the potlatch and the gift. Baudrillard advances pre capitalist societies with principles non-recoupable to any economic or semiological logic of value. Baudrillard emphasized that the respective relations of producer and product, producer and user, the producer’s labor power and needs, and the product and its utility, are not autonomies in the primitive relation of symbolic reciprocity. In L’Echange symbolique et la mort (1976), Baudrillard developed his concepts of simulation and symbolic exchange where he asserts that a ‘structural revolution of value’ has eliminated and exceeds Saussure’s and Marx’s laws of value. According to his explanation, the social and historical mutations that directed to this new epoch of simulation in a recognized model of the three orders of simulacra. He adds a fourth order in ‘La Transparence du Mal’ which was written fourteen years later (1990). Baudrillard also condemned the Freud’s thought of humor, linguistic interpretations of Saussure’s anagrams and, most contentiously, the fetishistic disjunction of life and death through symbolic exchange in L’Echange symbolique (Horrocks, 2007).

    In his two short books, ‘L’Effet Beaubourg’ and ‘A l’ombre des majorités silencieuses’ which was published in 1977 and 1978, Baudrillard detailed additional symbolic counter-gifts based upon the potlatch-like behavior of the masses. At this phase, Baudrillard changed his vital concepts of symbolic reversibility and abolition in opposition to Michel Foucault’s investigations of power and sexuality in Oublier Foucault (1977). Baudrillard redefined and labeled new meaning to symbolic exchange in ‘De la seduction’ (1979), even though the attitude of seduction preserves all the characteristics which he had advanced in the radical alterity of primitive societies. After publishing mostly sociological diaries Amerique (1986), Cool Memories I & II (1987a and 1990a), La Guerre du golfe n’a pas eu lieu (1991) and papers on existing trends in social and political theory, Baudrillard rehabilitated his concentration in objects in “Les Stratégies fatales” (1983). In marking out all the senses of fatality, Baudrillard speculates a world of devious objects realizing their fervors, gratifying their fortunes and discomforting the subject’s to know them. Baudrillard’s theoretical debts to the theatres of Antonin Artaud and Alfred Jarry are much in substantiation to here in the ‘revenge of things’ and the ‘pataphysical delicacy’ of a world he imagines must be seen in the place of the traditional one. Baudrillard’s apprehension with a postmodern world of simulacra frenziedly hyper realizing themselves has marked itself in his similarly tremendous style of theorizing. He followed the principle that “only a response equal to or greater than the message issued by the system can in theory effectively challenges it has been especially influential among art critics and critical theorists” (Genosko, 1994). In the beginning of 1990s, the repercussion against so-called “postmodern theory” became popular in the press, and conservatives and radicals condemned Baudrillard in equal measure (Horrocks , 2007).

    Baudrillard is popular among populace of world for his tarnished examination and creation of the Gulf war of 1991 “did not take place”. In this work he wanted to communicate that laser technology and video reportage had eradicated the precision of skirmish, the blood, the anguish, and the carcasses. Baudrillard had created most of the work in French which were first translated into English in the late 1970s, when he took position in the academic imagination next to Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jacques Derrida as a prophet known as “postmodernism”. Baudrillard is hardly ever concerned with textual theory very dissimilar to his postmodernist colleagues although he created some poetry. Following principle of Descartes, Baudrillard is a complicated materialist thinker who was primarily concerned with the corroboration of reality to which he explained as a metaphysical problem that in our time has widen across all forms of experience (Hussey, 2003).

    Baudrillard’s disagreement for an anti-materialist theory of language commenced with a critique of materialism as a simple inversion of idealism, which turned into idealism a service. The intellectual formation of Baudrillard was determinedly noticeable by literature. Baudrillard’s first essays were literary in the traditional sense (Gane, 1991). Mr. Baudrillard was considered as a postmodern expert, but he analyzed the modern life in too original way and distinctive that fit any hypothetical category. Mr. Baudrillard was very much recognized for his witty aphorism and black humor. He published a kind of travelogue called “America” in 1986 in which he wrote, “America is the original version of modernity,” referring to what he considered the almost complete blurring of reality and unreality. The current American invasion of Iraq is an effort to “put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all-powerful” (Cohen, 2007).

    Baudrillard viewed modern consumer society as a system in which analysis of the laws of production has become outdated. Consumption is very significant, and consumption has to be understood in a novel manner (Rojek , 1993). Recently Baudrillard had disparaged outer France and, in particular, from within the United States as a “fellow-traveller” of Islamic terrorism. The reason for these vicious assaults was a small essay, “The Spirit of Terrorism”, first published in Le Monde in the wake of 11 September 2001, indicates not a logical but a thoughtful of the emotional climate in which terrorism grows rapidly. According to Baudrillard, terrorism is unavoidable in a international humanity based on the phony basis, originating from the United States, that good can overcome or exclude evil (Hussey, 2003).

    Baudrillard’s developments in his theories are noteworthy from a study of ambience, of a change in the prevailing form of power into the object, his work moves to an analysis of changing forms of resistance to it in the consuming masses which is a mode of resistance that takes the very form of the subject as an object. At last stage, he expanded out the analysis of these forms of resistance into the world of objects in general that is  things themselves have still strategies, and become visible to propose to human action a vision of inhuman treason (Gane, 1991). He was also a vicious detractor of consumer culture in which people bought objects not out of legitimate need but because of the status and meaning they bequeathed (Cohen, 2007). Baudrillard is not with the unjustified and soft dogma of late capitalism. He contemplated the symbolism from the radical viewpoint. Baudrillard is not a promoter of the ‘dead sign’ and ‘semiological implosion’. If post modernity can be understood with reference to this abject semiotic condition, Baudrillard is an anti-semiological and an anti-postmodern theorist, with the stipulation that the two concepts are not indistinguishable (Genosko, 1994).  At present, Baudrillard’s concepts are recognized by most of us, these beliefs are widespread even in fields he never anticipated.  His vigorous dedication to a multiplicity of activities, from teaching and public lectures to political campaigns, demonstrates his real importance is less as a logician than as a cultural critic who daringly understands what it means to live in the sedating world of today (Hussey, 2003).


    1)      Gane Mike. 1991. Baudrillard’s Bestiary: Baudrillard and Culture. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: New York. Page Number: 1-6.

    2)      Cohen Patricia. 2007. Jean Baudrillard, 77, Critic and Theorist of Hyperreality. The New York Times. March 7.

    3)      Genosko Gary. 1994. Baudrillard and Signs: Signification Ablaze. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: New York. Page Number: xviii.

    4)      Horrocks Chris .2007. Jean Baudrillard ‘Outlaw’ cultural theorist. The Independent .09 March .

    5)      Jean Baudrillard. 1996. The System of Objects. J. Benedict (Trans). Verso Books. London and New York, (1968), page 22.

    6)      Jean Baudrillard, 1995. The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana University Press;.

    7)      Jean Baudrillard. 2001. “The Spirit of Terrorism”, Le Monde, 2 November.

    8)      Hussey Andrew . 2003. Great thinkers of our time – Jean Baudrillard. Newstatesman. 14 July.

    9)      Rojek Chris. Bryan S. Turner. 1993. Forget Baudrillard?. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: New York. Page Number: 1.


    Contemporary Theorist Jean Baudrillard. (2016, Aug 21). Retrieved from

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