System of Objects

Jean Baudrillard


Pressing Freudian and Saussurean categories into the service of a basically Marxist perspective, The System of Objects offers a cultural critique of the commodity in consumer society. Baudrillard classifies the everyday objects of the “new technical order” as functional, nonfunctional and metafunctional. He contrasts “modern” and “traditional” functional objects, subjecting home furnishing and interior design to a celebrated semiological analysis. His treatment of nonfunctional or “marginal” objects focuses on antiques and the psychology of collecting, while the metafunctional category extends to the useless, the aberrant and even the “schizofunctional.” Finally, Baudrillard deals at length with the implications of credit and advertising for the commodification of everyday life.