By William Pawlett
This advent to Jean Baudrillard's arguable writings covers his complete profession yet specializes in his crucial, yet little understood, thought of symbolic trade. during the explanation of this key time period a really diversified Baudrillard emerges.
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Additional resources for Jean Baudrillard : against banality
News reports on ‘war, famine and death are interspersed with adverts for washing powder and razors’ and, we might add, with the self-advertising of journalists, news organisations and TV companies. But this is not merely a chaotic, confused abundance of signs: ‘it is the imposition upon us, by the systematic succession of messages, of the equivalence of history and the minor news item, of the event and the spectacle, of information and advertising at the level of the sign’ (1998a: 122). Not only events, but also the world itself, are ‘segmented’, cut up into ‘discontinuous, successive, non-contradictory messages’.
Baudrillard pursues the hypothesis that there has been an important shift from competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism. While Marxism had considerable critical purchase on the workings of competitive capitalism it has little grip on the new phase. The dialectic, which had functioned in the phase of competitive capitalism, is undermined by the operation of the code as a system of ‘total abstraction’ where the signified and the referent are now abolished to the sole profit of the play of signifiers .
Baudrillard attempts a critical social theory of political economy and representation by proposing that ‘exchange value is to use value what the signifier is to the signified’, and, further, ‘exchange value is to the signifier what use value is to the signified’ (1981: 127). This involves a redefinition of the concept of ideology. The ideological nature of signs, of representation, is to be discovered at the level of form not content, not at the level of the meaning of the signified but in the mechanics of the sign itself.