• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Jean Baudrillard’s classic text was one of the first to focus on the process and meaning of consumption in contemporary culture. Originally published in 1970, the book makes a vital contribution to current debates on consumption. The book includes Baudrillard’s most organized discussion of mass media culture, the meaning of leisure, and anomie in affluent society. A chapter on the body demonstrates Baudrillard’s extraordinary prescience for flagging vital subjects in contemporary culture long before others. This English translation begins with a new introductory essay.

The Vicious Circle of Growth
The Vicious Circle of Growth
Collective Expenditure and Redistribution

Consumer society is not characterized merely by the rapid growth of individual expenditure. It is also accompanied by the growth of expenditure met by third parties (by the government in particular) for the benefit of private individuals, the purpose of some of this being to reduce the inequality of the distribution of resources.

This proportion of collective expenditure meeting individual needs has risen from 13 per cent of total consumption in 1959 to 17 per cent in 1965. In 1965, the percentage of needs met by third parties was:

  • 1 per cent for food and clothing (‘subsistence’);
  • 13 per cent for housing expenses, transport and communication networks (‘the environment’);
  • 67 per cent in the fields of ...
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