Author: Jean Baudrillard
Pressing Freudian and Saussurean categories into the service of a basically Marxist perspective, The System of Objects offersa cultural critique of the commodity in consumer society. Baudrillardclassifies the everyday objects of the "new technical order" asfunctional, nonfunctional and metafunctional. He contrasts "modern" and"traditional" functional objects, subjecting home furnishing andinterior design to a celebrated semiological analysis. His treatment ofnonfunctional or "marginal" objects focuses on antiques and thepsychology of collecting, while the metafunctional category extends tothe useless, the aberrant and even the "schizofunctional." Finally,Baudrillard deals at length with the implications of credit andadvertising for the commodification of everyday life. The System of Objectsis a tour de force of the materialist semiotics of the earlyBaudrillard, who emerges in retrospect as something of a lightning rodfor all the live ideas of the day: Bataille's political economy of"expenditure" and Mauss's theory of the gift; Reisman's lonely crowdand the "technological society" of Jacques Ellul; the structuralism ofRoland Barthes in The System of Fashion; Henri Lefebvre's workon the social construction of space; and last, but not least, GuyDebord's situationist critique of the spectacle.