Structuralism

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Levi-Strauss himself accepted the limits of his method. “The idea behind structuralism”, he explained, “is that there are things we may not know but we can learn how they are related to each other. This has been used by science since it existed and can be extended to a few other studies – linguistics and mythology – but certainly not to everything.” “The great speculative structures are made to be broken. There is not one of them that can hope to last more that a few decades, or at most a century or two.

(The Daily Telegraph – Wednesday, November 4th 2009)

Structuralism is an intellectual movement originating in the 1960’s, associated with a number of French writers and characterised by a study of the systems, relations and forms – the structures – that make meaning possible in any cultural activity or text.

a basic assumption of structuralism is that there are universal structures underlying different human cultures and texts.

the methodology has been applied to literature, language, film, fine art, psychology, anthropology, history and philosophy. Structuralism relies heavily on the terminology developed by semiologists such as Saussure and Barthes.

Barthes described a text as: “a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can read, they are indeterminable…the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language…” (S/Z – 1974 translation)

(AS/A-Level Media Studies David Probert 2005) (mediaknowall.com)

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