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Structuralism

 

Explanations > Critical Theory > Structuralism

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Structuralism assumes that things are the sum of their parts and the relationships between the parts, which are assembled into the larger structure.

Thus it combines separation and creation of a distinct part with relational combination of parts into a greater whole.

It seeks to describe meta-languages that describe the systems under scrutiny.

Structuralism rejects the purposeful human agent as the key force in history.

Discussion

Structuralism aligns with the positivist viewpoint, but not with postmodernism.

For parts to be identified, they must have boundaries that separate them as unities.

In psychology, structuralism started with William Wundt, who sought to break consciousness down into its constituent parts.

In anthropology, meaning seen to be produced and reproduced through practices, phenomena and activities which act as systems of signification.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, analyzed cultural phenomena including mythology, kinship, and food preparation. He rejected the purposeful human agent as the motivating force in history.

In linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure used structuralism in his analysis of language and signs, creating Semiotics and his idea of parole (talk) and langue (underlying structured system). He argued that meaning is created inside language in the difference between words.

See also

Post-structuralism

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