научная статья по теме Structuralism on the sign and the symbol Биология

Текст научной статьи на тему «Structuralism on the sign and the symbol»

DOI: 10.12731/wsd-2014-9.1-2 UDC 330.821.5


Naidenov N.D., Kirosova T.A., Kozlova A.N.

The article looks at the basic theoretical concepts of the political economy of the sign (structuralism, postmodernity) and their development in the theory of power based on the work by J. Baudrillard 'For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign'. The study compares and contrasts basic concepts of structuralism and neo-liberalism.

According to structuralism social structure is reproduced through the reproduction of objects/signs. It is important that not only things or money but mathematical formulas, linguistic constructions and people can act as signs. The society needs the diversity of signs and manipulating the signs is one of the modern society's illnesses.

Neoliberalism proclaims the liberal model of an individual, who is primarily concerned with the struggle between the signs. Assigning a certain value to the symbol is typical both for structuralism and neo-modernity.

The authors find it necessary to raise the symbolic diversity of the Russian society trough increasing the forms of consumption.

Keywords: postmodernity, neo-modernity, societal symbolic diversity.

СТРУКТУРАЛИЗМ О ВЛАСТИ И ЗНАКЕ Найденов Н.Д., Киросова Т.А., Козлова А.Н.

В статье анализируются основные теоретические положения политической экономии знака (структурализм, постмодернизм) и их развитие в теории власти на основе работы Ж. Бодрийяра «К критике политической экономии знака». Проводится сравнение основных положений структурализма и неполитического либерализма.

Согласно структурализму благодаря воспроизводству предметов/знаков осуществляется воспроизводство социальной структуры общества. При этом в качестве знаков могут быть рассмотрены не только вещи и деньги, но и математические формулы и лингвистические структуры, люди. Общество нуждается в знаковом, символическом многооборазии. К болезням современного общества относится манипулирование знаками.

Неполитический либерализм провозглашает модель либерального человека, для которого борьба знаков имеет существенное значение. Придание знаку важного значения в жизни общества объединяет пост-модернизм и неполитический модернизм.

Авторы считают необходимым умножение и расширение символического многообразия российского общества.

Ключевые слова: постмодерн, неполитический модернизм, символическое многообразие общества.


Political economy of the sign (structuralism) is a new trend in the economic theory, which introduces the economic content of the sign, information, exchange, symbolic exchange and needs, which previously did not constitute the subject matter of political economy. The study of the political economy of the sign is timely firstly, because there is still no unanimity in scientific and academic circles regarding this aspect of modern political economy and its development. Se condly, the evolvement of the new trend in political economy brings about the need to reconsider the concept and the essence of the sign in the economic theory.

Literature Overview

We shall accept that the sign is a phenomenon, connected with another phenomenon. The first phenomenon is perceived by the doer and the second one is expressed for the doer by means of the first phenomenon.

Postmodernity is one of the main recent tendencies in science and culture, which affected economics, sociology, psychology, politics, morals, culture and art. Critical attitude to traditions, reflexive attitude to stereotypes and values and questioning their efficiency are the characteristics of postmodernity. The main criterion of estimating the work method is its present efficiency. The efficiency in its turn is diagnosed by the number of positive references by colleagues.

Among the characteristics of postmodernity are:

- ambiguity (a range of options, polysemanticism);

- no rules for subordination of the processes;

- hyperrealism;

- the doer performing the action is impersonal and decentralized;

- fragmented practical activity.

Jean Baudrillard and his book 'For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign' which was published in 1972 and translated into Russian in 2007 [1] became a typical representative of postmodernity in the latter half of the 20th century (he adapted the existing theoretical concepts of modernity to present-day reality). Structuralism is a synonym of postmodernity. Postmodernity views existing social relations and phenomena as signs. Initially the reality governed the people with the help of the signs, so the reality and the signs corresponded to each other. Nowadays, we are governed by simulation principles instead of former principles on which the reality was based. Signs correspond to other signs, but not things. Everything becomes a simulation, even the labour, which does not manufacture, but only socializes the individual and transforms the individual into a sign. In the simulation the individual including the authorities representative, deals with abstract things, formulas and simulacrums, but not real people, structures or relations.

Researchers refer to J. Baudrillard's ideas both critically and positively, because he proved the role of symbolic diversity in the societal development. Some authors view neo-liberalism the same positively as a concept of a liberal individual. (the individual who thinks that god lives in everyone's soul).


Analysis, synthesis, abstract analytical method, historic, ascention from abstract to specific.

Theoretical Framework

The book 'For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign' holds a special place among the writings of J. Baudrillard's (born in 1929), sociologist. In his book J. Baudrillard presented economic explanation of the sign as a fragment of economic reality, an economic category and a reflection of the societal hierarchic structure. J. Baudrillard looks at things and exchange values from the point of view of a consumer and their labour equivalent and from the perspective of social infrastructure signs, which possess imperative force. Societal structure is reproduced through the reproduction of things/signs. Not only things or money can act as signs, but mathematical formulas, linguistic constructions and people.

Exchange is the initial theoretical category in the political economy of the sign. Normally, exchange means commodity counter-flow. The same is true for other definitions of exchange like the match between demand and supply, continuing distribution, the match between the consumer's and the supplier's plans, the point where the curves of the consumer's indifference and the manufacturer's production capability meet, reciprocity and centralization. J. Baudrillard derives from a different definition of exchange as an operation between two separate terms, which existed in isolation before the exchange, and as a double coercion - the coercion to give and the coercion to take [see 1 p.79]. Such definition does not conform to the classical concept of exchange as the consumer's free choice. It is closer to the classification of exchange forms by Polanyi: gift, distribution, commodity exchange. However, J. Baudrillard does not differentiate between a gift, distribution and commodity exchange. He highlights the exchange's functional aspect - whether the exchange takes place for the benefit of

the use-value or for maintaining the parties' social status. He proves that the main goal of the exchange is maintaining the parties' the social status. Accoridng to J. Baudrillard there is always an underlying social mechanism of demonstration, differentiation and veneration behind the purchase when items are saved or consumed. The main reason for purchasing is not in satisfying the needs, enjoying the advantages or user value, but in the symbolic value of the exchange, social demon-station, competition and finally in class differences. [see 1, p. 14].

J. Baudrillard thinks exchange (commodity circulation) is performed in four social codes.

1. Functional logic of use-value (use-value acquisition).

2. Economic logic of exchange value (exchange based on equivalent labour costs).

3. Symbolic exchange logic (social status symbol).

4. Logic of cost/sign (the object is possessed as a status symbol) [see 1, p. 73].

The exchange is regulated by the rules of equivalency, differentiation and ambivalency. Equivalency presupposes that objects can be replaced according to their exchange value. Differentiation - the exchange can demonstrate the parties' social status. Ambivalency -the individual's acceptance/rejection of the other party's passion and desire for the object, the discourse between the consciousness and the subconscious.

J. Baudrillard argues with Marx. Unlike Marx who viewed manufacture as the basis, J. Baudrillard thinks that the logic of exchange is prior to the logic of manufacture. Each of the two exists for the sake of the other, which is more important than their separate existence.

Exchange predetermines the existence of the first phenomenon for the sake of the other. Exchange of things/signs both differentiates people by their social status and the object of exchange by characteristic elements. Within the exchange system there exists social production of material differences, codes of values and status values, therefore, how functional goods and individual's needs are is predetermined by these fundamental structural mechanisms and differentiation principles. [see 5, p. 87]. Consumption does not exist separately from use-value as the satisfaction of needs and desires. However, there exists manufacture of things/signs, which determines satisfaction of desires. Neither does superstructure over material production exist. Ideology and moral values are the basic elements of the society as they reproduce and maintain objects/signs. According to J. Baudrillard user values do not reveal themselves under modern market economy conditions, it is only the logic of the sign t

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