chapter  1
The Object System, the Sign System and the Consumption System
Pages 21

Baudrillard’s first full-length study, Le systeme des objets /The System of Objects (1996a), is rich and insightful, and is notable for worked examples and careful elaborations of position that are not present in most of his later works. Yet by no means is it a conventional sociological analysis. Baudrillard approaches everyday objects – clocks, cars, chairs, cigarette lighters – as an artist or photographer as much as a sociologist. This is both a strength and a weakness of the study. It offers a ‘thick’ or detailed description, almost a cataloguing, of the ‘functionality’ of the modern system of objects, but it lacks both the sustained critical force and experimentalism characteristic of later works. As a result the arguments of System are, at times, hard to distinguish from conservative denunciations of new technology and the state of ‘modern life’. However, close attention to the text reveals far more interesting lines of argument, which are developed and reworked many times in later studies.