1 E-learning lab, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN2 ICT for Development, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN3 Department of Communication and Psychology, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN4 The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN
A Baby in the Marxist Bath Water?
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