Sociologist in Focus: Jean Baudrillard
- AS, A Level
Last updated 3 Dec 2017
Jean Baudrillard was born in France in 1929 and began his academic career teaching sociology in Paris. His radical attitude made him famous along with his outspoken Marxist views.
With much of his work originally published in the 1980s, Baudrillard could be argued to have been ahead of his time as he described reality as dead in the physical sense, and reality is only what can be simulated or reproduced. He argued that there is so much information in the world that the media has to simplify it (and in turn deciding what is real), and so therefore we accept the replication of images and stories as reality (#fakenews perhaps?). Consequently, we live in a world with more information but with less meaning.
He used the word ‘simulacra’ to describe images that have no original in reality but that can be produced to create a more satisfying result than reality itself. ‘Second Life’, is a virtual world platform that be seen as an example of simulacra, where people can create a new version of themselves. Therefore he argues that we have created a hyperreality that is the product of this loss of meaning.
Although Baudrillard has been praised for celebrating postmodern culture, he has been criticised for moving away from his Marxist roots in his later work.
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