The publication of Simulacra et Simulation in 1981 marked Jean Baudrillard's first important step toward theorizing the postmodern. Moving away from the Marxist/Freudian approaches that had concerned him earlier, Baudrillard developed in this book a theory of contemporary culture that relies on displacing economic notions of cultural production with notions of cultural expenditure.
Baudrillard uses the concepts of the simulacra—the copy without an original—and simulation. These terms are crucial to an understanding of the postmodern, to the extent that they address the concept of mass reproduction and reproduceability that characterizes our electronic media culture.
Baudrillard's book represents a unique and original effort to rethink cultural theory from the perspective of a new concept of cultural materialism, one that radically redefines postmodern formulations of the body.
Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.
Jean Baudrillard was also a Professor of Philosophy of Culture and Media Criticism at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he taught an Intensive Summer Seminar.
Jean Baudrillard's philosophy centers on the twin concepts of 'hyperreality' and 'simulation'. These terms refer to the virtual or unreal nature of contemporary culture in an age of mass communication and mass consumption. We live in a world dominated by simulated experiences and feelings, Jean Baudrillard believes, and have lost the capacity to comprehend reality as it actually exists. We experience only prepared realities--edited war footage, meaningless acts of terrorism, the destruction of cultural values and the substitution of 'referendum'.
In Jean Baudrillard's words,
"The very definition of the real has become: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction...The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: that is the hyperreal...which is entirely in simulation."