Comparative Summary of Articles: Ideological Genesis of Needs and Authenticity in the Age of the Poseur

Summarizing the Main Theses of the Articles

The articles under analysis reflect on the role of commodity cultures in shaping people’s attitudes and values. Hence, in the article called Ideological Genesis of Needs, the author refers to the idea of consumption as a sophisticated set of subjective relations and as a product of our consciousness and dream work (Baudrillard, 2000).

Specifically, consumption is confined to the logic of symbolic exchange values signifying abstracted notions, but not the empirical objects. In contrast, the article called Authenticity in the Age of the Poseur provides an analysis of commodity narratives through the signs of authenticity (Goldman & Papson, 1996). At this point, the authors explore hidden connotations of advertized products, as well as attempts to define how the object of consumption is implicitly revealed through the concepts of self, identity, and judgment.

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Themes and Arguments

While exploring the main aspects and dimensions of sign culture, the authors approach to different definitions and concepts to explain the phenomenon. At this point, Baudrillard (2000) talks about signs in the context of the consumption stating that an object is nothing, but a sign that is controlled, exchanged, and manipulated by individuals. In particular, the author emphasizes, “object-become-sign no longer gathers its meaning in the concrete relationship between two people” (Baudrillard, 2000, p. 58).

Hence, an object acquires a certain meaning only when discussed in the context of other signs. Similar to Baudrillard (2000), Goldman & Papson (1996) refer to a sign as a means of reflecting a social world of individuals through abstract concepts of identity and self. However, the authors are more concerned with individuals searching for authenticity and self-characterization rather with identifying an object.

The scholars approve, “…the dilemma of authenticity in the age of commodity sign is that no sooner does something become recognized as a mark of authenticity than it get appropriated and transformed into a popular sign” (Goldman & Papson, 1996, p. 143). Interpreting this, the authors insist on the importance of considering symbolic meaning of a product rather than its empirical nature.

While deliberating of the idea of consumption, both authors agree that this notion cannot belong to empirical dimension. Rather, consumption is often understood as an abstracted notion, as relations between people. At this point, Baudrillard (2000) discloses the idea of consumption through sign values whereas Goldman & Papson (1996) consider it as an outcome of advertising.

Interesting representation consumption through means of logic is presented by Baudrillard (2000). The author provides an extensive outlook on the logic of consumption through different types of values – use value, exchange value, symbolic sign value, and sign value. These transitions indicate transformation of an empirical object into an abstracted notion.

There is a strong correlation between empirical objects and their symbolic values. Both authors assert that an object of consumption is never empirical, or concrete. On the contrary, commodities are considered abstracted notions, products of imagination and consciousness (Goldman & Papson, 1996; Baudrillard, 2000). To prove that, Baudrillard (2000) notices, “the object is not an object; it is inseparable from the concrete relation in which it is exchanged, the transferential pact that it seals between two persons…” (p. 58).

In this respect, an object acquires a function of a commodity once it is involved in specific relations and provided with a specific symbolic value. Goldman & Papson (1996) also present a symbolic dimension of object of consumptions by assigning the meaning of “hierarchy of judgments” (p. 142). Hence, authenticity is presented as one of the values, as a purpose of individuals searching for unique space.

Finally, both articles refer to the problem of advertising means, as well as how the consumption culture is generated through object representation. In this respect, Baudrillard (2000) refers to consumption idea as the one introduced by social order, an external factors influencing the consciousness of an individual.

At the same time, Goldman & Papson (1996) to advertising culture as a strategy seeking to highlight authenticity. Hence, a commodity becomes the central object of social relations through which individuals are trying to fulfill themselves. The relational approaches to treating commodities provide advertisers with a possibility to expand their views on the functions of objects that are being advertized.


Judging from the representation of the concept of consumption, the article presented by Goldman & Papson (1996) makes a stronger impression because the authors manager to clear define the place of consumption in social worlds as well as how it is introduced in the context of sign culture. However, the second article also presents a systematic overview of the consumption as an abstracted representation of social relations and as a complex system of sign values.


Baudrillard, J. (2000). Ideological Genesis of Needs. In J. Schor, D. B. Holt, & D. Holt. The Consumer Society Reader.US: New Press. pp. 57-81

Goldman, R., & Papson, S. (1996). Authenticity in the Age of the Poseur. In R. Golman, & S. Papson, Sign Wars: Cluttered Landscape of Advertising. US: The Guildford Press. pp. 141-186.