The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures

The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures

by Jean Baudrillard

Originally published in 1970, the book was one of the first to focus on the processes and meaning of consumption in contemporary culture.

At a time when others were fixated with the production process, Baudrillard could be found making the case that consumption is now the axis of culture.

In particular, concepts of simulation and the simulacrum receive their earliest systematic treatment.Written at a time when Baudrillard was moving away from both Marxism and institutional sociology, the book is more systematic than his later works.

This book makes available to English-speaking readers one of his most important works.

It will be devoured by the steadily expanding circle of Baudrillard scholars, and it will also be required reading for students of the sociology of culture, communication and cultural studies.This edition is published with a long, specially prepared introductory essay written by the noted cultural commentator and social theorist, George Ritzer, author of The McDonaldization of Society.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Rating: 4.13
  • Pages: 224
  • Publish Date: April 14th 1998 by Sage Publications Ltd
  • Isbn10: 0761956921
  • Isbn13: 9780761956921

What People Think about "The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures"

To Marx commodities have two attributes that he wants to distinguish immediately their use-value and their exchange-value. Marxs explanation for this discrepancy is related to his theory of value not that gold is rarer than bread, which would just mean the problem is one of demand and supply, but rather that more human labour needs to go into retrieving a certain quantity of gold compared to a certain quantity of bread, and it is the quantity of labour contained within the commodity that determines its value. This distinction between use-value and exchange-value is focused on throughout this book. Baudrillard wants to argue that there is no such thing as an affluent society that such a thing is impossible when a society is based on commodity production. And this is mostly because commodities are not use-values but rather symbols that enter into exchanges and gain their value by their relative rarity that is, precisely the opposite of what Marx claimed. Galbraith sought to define capitalism as an affluent society by focusing on use-values. It is impossible that capitalism could ever provide a truly affluent society, its only means of continued existence, and this is definitional, is to endlessly provide discontentment. Commodities are not defined by their use-value, but rather their exchange-value and that exchange is a kind of symbolic exchange. This idea from advertising that we need to buy things to become what we have always already been is played with throughout this book and is such a constant in advertising that it is a wonder how we seem to constantly fall for this particular three-card trick. To be ourselves we need to change and the means to the change that makes us finally truly ourselves is the commodity which seeks to sell our true selves to ourselves. The point isnt need, isnt use-value, it is status, it is exchange-value, it is symbolic representation and conspicuous display in a society defined by competition. Page 49 All men are equal before need and before the principle of satisfaction, since all mean are equal before the use-value of objects and goods (whereas they are unequal and divided before exchange-value). Page 50 Equilibrium is the ideal fantasy of economists which is contradicted, if not by the very logic of society as a condition, then at least by all known forms of social organisation. Every society produces differentiation, social discrimination, and that structural organisation is based on the use and distribution of wealth (among other things). Page 55 Knowledge and power are, or are going to become, the two great scarce commodities of our affluent societies. Page 58 The right to clean air signifies the loss of clean air as a natural good, its transition to commodity status and its inegalitarian social redistribution. Page 58 It is their constellation, their configuration, the relation to these objects and their overall social perspective which alone have a meaning. Page 61 It is within the upper echelons of society, as a reaction against the loss of earlier distinctive markers, that innovation takes place, in order to restore social distance. Page 63 One of the contradictions of growth is that it produces goods and needs at the same time. Page 72 The circulation, purchase, sale, appropriation and differentiated good and signs/objects today constitute our language, our code, the code by which the entire society communicates and converses. Page 80 It is important to grasp that this personalization, this pursuit of status and social standing, are all based on signs. Page 144 Thus, the whole of advertising and modern erotics are made up of signs, not of meaning. Not only can it not mask the iron law of market society, the objective truth of social relations, which is competition.

kitap dostoyevskinin u sözleriyle balyor: bütün maddi tatminleri salayn ona, öyle ki uyumak, çörek yemek ve dünya tarihini sürdürmeyi dert edinmekten baka yapacak bir eyi kalmasn: yeryüzünün tüm mallarna boun ve saç diplerine kadar mutlulua gömün: bu mutluluun yüzeyine küçük kabarcklar çkacaktr, suyun üzerinde olduu gibi. artk önemli bir mülkiyet daha var: tüketim araçlar mülkiyeti. 25) kitapta çok sert bir söylem var: kitle iletiimin bize verdii gerçeklik deil, gerçekliin ba döndürücülüüdür. içine reklamlar, subliminal mesajlar ve çeitli komutlar da kartrlarak bireye ulatnda bireye para verdii ve karlnda tatmin ald bir tablo çiziyor. ancak bu giderek geliiyor, bireyin belli bir kalba uymas da dahil olmak üzere kendi üzerindeki düünceleri de yönlendiriliyor. baudrillard bunu öyle bir örnekle özetler: zencilerin isyan ettiklerinde ilk kendi mahallelerini yakmalar gibi, birey de bu baskya kar ilk kendini tahrip eder ve bu da depresyondur. modern zaman hastalklarndan olan depresyon, bireyin kaybettii mutluluk, güzellik gibi anlamlarn kargaasdr. birey, iletiim araçlaryla bize sunulan mutluluk ile kendi araylar arasnda yiter.

But beyond all the jabs and dense prose and cynicism, when you read stuff like: "Happiness has to be measurable; it has to be a 'well-being' in terms of objects and signs. Happiness as (on the ideology and myth of happiness) total or inner enjoyment --that happiness independent of the signs which could manifest it to others and to those around us, the happiness which has no need of evidence--is therefore excluded from the outset of the customer ideal in which happiness must always signify with 'regard' to visible criteria" "You never consume the object in itself (in its use-value); you are always manipulating object (in the broadest sense) as signs which distinguish you either by affiliating you to your own group taken as an ideal reference or by marking you off from your group by reference to a group of higher status." Or things like: "The consumerist man sees to it that all his potentialities , all his customer capacities are mobilized.

Bende olanlarn o sraya göre okumak derdindeyim.

Bedenden, ruha kadar tüketim kölesi oluumuzun kitab bu.

I don't claim to have read a lot of Baudrillard, but this is definitely one of his more analytical pieces where he doesn't take as much sumptous liberty with the language.

We live in a world dominated by simulated experiences and feelings, Jean Baudrillard believes, and have lost the capacity to comprehend reality as it actually exists.