Jean Baudrillard outlined a theory of value in his early writings that built on, but also criticized, Marxist concepts of use value and exchange value. In this paper, I use a close reading to delineate the diachronic transition of Baudrillard's writings toward anti-Marxism and (allegedly) postmodernism, with specific focus on his value theory, in order to understand his own reasons for abandoning his previous position. I then follow the marginal stream of scholars who are making use of the early Baudrillard. I find his value theory promising but still a mere sketch rather than an actual general theory. The paper concludes that Baudrillard's arguments for abandoning Marxism altogether are problematic and led him away from developing a more finished theory of value. This is unfortunate because it remains a project that may yield interesting insights even in contemporary social theory, not least in supporting reconciliation (e.g., between critical semiotics-influenced positions and Marxism).
Rethinking Marxism, 2014, Vol 26, Issue 3, p. 382-397
Consumption; Jean Baudrillard; Situationism; Symbolic Exchange; Value Theory