Sociology Index

Jean Baudrillard

Among distinguished sociologists, French sociologist, Jean Baudrillard's works are often associated with postmodernism, specifically post-structuralism. Jean Baudrillard was originally critical of the neglect of consumption in Marxist economic theory. Jean Baudrillard later turned to the analysis of the production, exchange and consumption of signs and symbols in a consumer society. Jean Baudrillard argues that the electronic media of communication falsify social relations which become merely simulations of social reality. He has been concerned to understand the nature of mass society and mass communication mass society. Because social reality is a simulation, he claims that society becomes hyperreal.

Jean Baudrillard argued that meaning is created through difference, through what something is not, "dog" means "dog" because it is not-"cat." Baudrillard viewed meaning as near enough self-referential: objects, images of objects, words and signs are situated in a web of meaning.

Baudrillard argued that a complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible, and when people are seduced into thinking otherwise they become drawn toward a "simulated" version of reality, or, to use one of his neologisms, a state of hyperreality. This is not to say that the world becomes unreal, but rather that the faster and more comprehensive societies begin to bring reality together into one supposedly coherent picture, the more insecure and unstable it looks and the more fearful societies become. - The Intelligence of Evil, where he discussed the political fallout of what he calls "Integral Reality." 

Jean Baudrillard's works include: Baudrillard wrote about diverse subjects, including consumerism, gender relations, economics, social history, art, Western foreign policy, and popular culture. Among his best known works are Simulacra and Simulation (1981), America (1986), and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991). For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (1972; The Mirror of Production (1973); L'Echange Symbolique et la Mort (1976); In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities (1978); Seduction (1979); Fatal Strategies (1983); America (1986).