Jean Baudrillard / "The Structural Law of value and the Order of Simulacra" – summary and review
In "The Structural Law of value and the Order of Simulacra" Jean Boudrillard situates pre-industrialism, industrialism and post-industrialism as three periods with distinct differences regarding language and the linguistic market. Boudrillard holds the the pre-industrial, or modern, era had direct and strong linguistic relations between signifier and signified without the risk of confusing meaning (no double meanings).
The industrial, or modern era has multiplied the signifier, according to Boudrillard, and gave rise to polysemy. The stark example of this is the production line – there is no longer one unique product, there is only a model, an abstract universal which designated many signified. Boudrillard argues that the unitary sign system breaks at the signifier's end, which now signifies not one thing but many identical objects.
The third era mentioned by Boudrillard in "The Structural Law of value and the Order of Simulacra" is the postindustrial or postmodern era, which continues the process of deconstruction which began with modernity. One the one hand Boudrillard argues that we reach a point in which the linguistic market has become total – with a multiple of reoccurring and self reproducing signs which take over our perception of reality and replaces it with a system of simulacra. On the other hand Boudrillard thinks that unclarity is brought about regarding the position of a certain object in relation to other objects. This is because of the transition to a world of simulacra which does not abide by a set structure of economy and value but by rules of hyper real and imagined representation. The realness of the industrialized era is replace according to Boudrillard by virtual manufacturing that can in certain cases break the link between signifier and signified.
For example, Boudrillard says that we have no way of knowing if what is said on the news is true or not, with the signifier (the news) replacing the signified (the events). We don’t need the actual signified in order to know it. The news replace reality with accuracy and truthfulness taking second precedent to entertainment value.
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