Summary 3 – Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard discusses the interaction between reality, symbols and society. Simulacra and
Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present
day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols
and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself.
He argues that the days do not exist anymore where signs conveyed simple and clear meaning.
Because of mass media consumer goods take on multiple meanings or have no stable meaning at
all. An example of this is "imagistic advertising" – rather than focus on clear-cut evaluation as to
price and quality of a product, imagistic advertising encourages emotional engagement as well as
unconscious desires and compels consumers to organize and find identity in cultural products.
The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived
reality. In Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations, he theorizes the emergence of a new theory
of signification, one that resembles the Saussurean system of signs in reverse. Baudrillard’s
theory of simulation, which holds that the ordering of the basic elements of signs, usually
considered in terms of signified preceding the signifier, is not revered in the postmodern society
such that the signifier, the image, the symbol, the icon, and index, precedes the signified, the real
basis of the sign, and where any concept of the real, or of meaning or history, has been eroded.
Furthermore, in a society where a constant flow of images via mass media and mass
communication becomes part of everyday life, we are treated to an endless barrage of signs
which we accept, not as being real, but as Baudrillard would argue, as supplanting the real. The
real loses its meaning, and what we believe and deal with are simulacra. Baudrillard would, as
Jameson did, relate this idea to history.