Giddens believes “the rules of social order may only be in our heads – they are not usually written down, and often have no formal force to back them up – but nevertheless, people can be shocked when seemingly minor social expectations are not adhered to” (Gauntlett 2001, p.2). For Giddens, while language and symbols may be manipulated, human beings are still empowered to change them — there is no utter subsuming of the real by symbols because of our ability to be conscious of the rules of the social order.
Baudrillard offers an explanation of why things seem less real in the postmodern present, but Giddens denies that we are in a state of postmodern reality at all. Tradition may be dead, Giddens states, but we have merely replaced it with a new, post-traditional culture. We have not gone beyond culture as Baudrillard suggests, and the postmodern love of pastiche and parody is merely a manifestation of our present-day culture: “its inappropriate to call it post-modernity. its just modernity with bells on” (Gauntlett 2001, p.3).
Baudrillards philosophy was said to be highly influential in generating the script for the movie the Matrix, where individuals live in worlds created by their minds, effectively living in a world of simulacra. The Matrix has in turn been said to reflect the Internet age, whereby avatars and text messages rather than real people and complete words dominate communication.
Thus it is instinctively tempting to side with Baudrillard in the debate over whether postmodernism is really the end of culture, and the take over of simulacra over the real. However, in reaction to the dominance of virtual realities, there is also a great deal of push-back that reflects Giddens belief that we are in control of our culture and not merely held hostage to symbols, and that we merely create new cultures and are not going beyond culture at all. Individuals attempting to find really meaningful jobs and idealistic political pursuits, going back to the land to create a greener and more sustainable future, or simply deleting their Facebook accounts all support Giddens contention that the death of reality has been prematurely announced, and we are entering a new post-traditional cultural cycle.
Felluga, Dino. (2002). Definition: Simulacra. Introductory guide to critical theory. Purdue University. Retrieved April 29, 2010
Felluga, Dino. (2002). Modules on Baudrillard: On postmodernity. Introductory guide to critical theory. Purdue University. Retrieved April 29, 2010
Gauntlett, David. (2002). Anthony Giddens. Retrieved April 29, 2010