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Baudrillard on Functionality

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This one I may actually use in its entirety…

“Every object claims to be functional, just as every regime claims to be democratic. The term evokes all the virtues of modernity, yet it is perfectly ambiguous. With reference to ‘function’ it suggests that the object fulfils itself in the precision of its relationship to the real world and to human needs. But… ‘functional’ in no way qualifies what is adapted to a goal, merely what is adapted to an order or system: functionality is the ability to become integrated into an overall scheme. An objects functionality is the very thing that enables it to transcend its main ‘function’ in the direction of a secondary one, to play a part, to become a combining element, an adjustable item, within a universe of signs. The functional system is thus characterised in a thoroughly ambiguous way, on the one had by a transcendence of the traditional system under its three parts – as the primary function of the object, as drives and primary needs, and as a set of symbolic relations between the two – and on the other hand by a disavowal of these three mutually reinforcing aspects of the traditional system”.  (Baudrillard, 1996: 67, original emphasis)

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Author: Oli

Human Geographer at Royal Holloway, University of London

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