• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Jean Baudrillard is one of the most celebrated and most controversial of contemporary social theorists. This major work occupies a central place in the rethinking of the humanities and social sciences around the idea of postmodernism. It leads the reader on an exhilarating tour encompassing the end of Marxism, the enchantment of fashion, symbolism about sex and the body, and the relations between economic exchange and death. Most significantly, the book represents Baudrillard’s fullest elaboration of the concept of the three orders of the simulacra, defining the historical passage from production to reproduction to simulation. A classic in its field, Symbolic Exchange and Death is a key source for the redefinition of contemporary social thought. Baudrillard’s critical gaze appraises social theories as diverse as cybernetics, ethnography, psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, communications theory and semiotics. This English translation begins with a new introductory essay.

Introduction to the First Edition
Introduction to the First Edition
Mike Gane

Symbolic Exchange and Death, published in France in 1976, is without doubt Jean Baudrillard’s most important book. It appeared alongside works by Claude Lévi-Strauss and Michel Foucault in Gallimard’s prestigious series Bibliothèque des Sciences Humaines. It is remarkable in many respects that it has taken some years for the full impact of Baudrillard’s work to be felt in English-speaking cultures, and then under something of a misunderstanding. For various complex reasons Baudrillard’s name is associated with postmodernism, indeed he has often been called the ‘high priest of postmodernism’, yet it is clear that Baudrillard’s own relationship with postmodernism is hardly positive. The interest in postmodernism has certainly served Baudrillard for there is enormous curiosity in ...

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