Origin Of Structuralism

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Register to read the introduction…He argued that language can be studied as a structure (Nielsen, 2007). The conceptualization of an underlying structure in language consisted of three major concepts:

1. The sign is an arbitrary combination of a singer (physical image, sound image, visual image, graphic image) and signified (mental image, abstract concept, abstract idea, items of thought, written word) which is the product of syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations, specific to a particular language.
Syntagmatic relationship unites elements present in a speech chain. For example, I’m cold. The cold has syntagmatic relation with I’m. Paradigmatic relationship unites terms in a mnemonic series. The cold has paradigmatic relation with words cool, chill and freezing. The signifier and signified are the smallest unit of linguistic signs (Scott and Marshall, 2005). Language as a closed system is form whose importance is greater than the content. Sign (word) has no reference to something outside its expression.
2. Each language uses a particular word to describe particular objects and concepts. There is no specific criterion, why a sign expresses a signifier. The choice of word is an arbitrary
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Levi-Strauss, J. Lacan, R. Jakobson, K. Marx, S. Blackburn, J. Searle, L. Althusser, N. Poulantzas. J. Piaget and T. Parsons, E. Durkheim, G. Simmel. A theoretical perspective that was prevailing between the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s.Disciplines like social anthropology, linguistics, literary criticism, psychoanalysis and sociology incorporated it into scientific analysis. Critics of structuralism called post-structuralism the major proponent of which are P. Chomsky, M. Foucault, J. Derrida and R. Barthes stress on priority of social action over social structure.

Table 1 Highlights of Structuralism Theory

As discontinuous and marked by radical changes not evolution.
He is product of relations. Decentered conception of self.
It has precedence over social action. Underlying structures can be distinguished. Centralized and closed totality. A system of ideas, language and land.
Social phenomenon
Social construction.
Social system
Cluster of norms and meanings.
It is a language born phenomenon.
Necessary for acquisition of social structure.
Structural determination
The structure is a determinant of actor’s behavior.

Structure and agent based explanation
The agent is reproduced by structural commands. The structure is form but the agent is content.

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