Baudrillard's theories developed dramatically over his intellectual career of forty years, and throughout these years he contributed considerably to the thematic of cultural fetishism. Consistent with his conception of the consumer society, he developed the notion of sign-fetishism, and object-fetishism. These are both steps in the radicalization of Marx's idea of commodity fetishism, drawing on freud's idea of fetishism as a perverse structure. The article notes that Baudrillard provided inventories of fetishism at regular intervals in his writings, and that these remained curiously unchanging. He contrasts the structure of fetishism with that of symbolic exchange, a cultural formation which resolves fetishism. His analysis of 9/11 is shown to be a complex combination of elements of the theory of fetishism (without being named as such) with that of symbolic exchange. Although Baudrillard developed the notion of fetishism to great critical effect, he did not theorize it or apply it systematically.
Baudrillard's Radicalization of Fetishism
MIKE GANE IS EMERITUS PROFESSOR AT LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY. HE EDITED THE COLLECTION BAUDRILLARD LIVE: SELECTED INTERVIEWS (ROUTLEDGE, 1993) AND IS AUTHOR OF JEAN BAUDRILLARD: IN RADICAL UNCERTAINTY (PLUTO, 2000), FRENCH SOCIAL THEORY (SAGE, 2003), AND AUGUSTE COMTE (ROUTLEDGE, 2006).