978-1-85984-068-9 / 9781859840689

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About the book:

Published for the first time in English, this is Jean Baudrillard's earliest book, written in 1968, at a time when (as the author would put it later), "The society of the spectacle and its denunciation were still the focal point of semiological, psychoanalytical and sociological arguments". Pressing Freudian and Saussurean categories into the service of a basically Marxist perspective, this book offers a cultural critique of the commodity in consumer society. Baudrillard classifies the everyday objects of the "new technical order" as functional, non-functional and metafunctional. He contrasts "modern" and "traditional" functional objects, subjecting home furnishing and interior design to a celebrated semiological analysis. His treatment of non-functional or "marginal" objects focuses on antiques and the psychology of collecting, while the metafunctional category extends to the useless, the aberrant and even the "schizofunctional". Finally, Baudrillard deals at length with the implications of credit and advertising for the commodification of everyday life. This book is an in-depth study of the materialist semiotics of the early Baudrillard, who emerges in retrospect as something of a lightning rod for the live ideas of the day: Bataille's political economy of "expenditure" and Mauss's theory of the gift; Reisman's "lonely crowd" and the "technological society" of Jacques Ellul; the struturalism of Roland Barthes in "The System of Fashion"; Henri Lefebvre's work on the social construction of space; and Guy Debord's situationist critique of the spectacle.

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