Structuralism, What Is Structuralism, What Does It Mean?

Structuralism, What Is Structuralism, What Does It Mean?

July 1, 2021 Off By Felso

Structuralism is known in the Western world as Structuralism. In the second half of the 20th century, it has been the most used approach in the analysis of language, culture, philosophy of mathematics and society. The work of Ferdinand de Saussure is generally accepted as a starting point, although there is no clear school of structuralism. It is best to see structuralism as a general approach with many variations.

Structuralism is fundamentally concerned with large structures, systems, and formations. Within the framework of the structuralist movement, human behavior and phenomena were tried to be examined and explained through these great systems and structures (for example: psychoanalysis, Marxism, Darwinism). The most influential areas of structuralism were linguistics, semiotics and anthropology.

Structuralism studies the relationships between the subunits that reveal meaning in a culture. A second use of structuralism has emerged in the philosophy of mathematics. According to structuralism theory, meaning in a culture is reproduced over and over through various practices, facts, and activities that work as systems of importance. A structuralist studies a wide range of activities, such as food preparation and serving rituals, religious rites, games, literary and non-literary writings, and other forms of entertainment, in order to explore the deep structures of meaning produced and reproduced in a culture. For example, cultural anthropologist and ethnographer Claude Levi-Strauss, one of the pioneers of structuralism, analyzed the phenomenon of culture to include mythology, kinship and food preparation.

The name of the common view in various branches of science, which argues that it is necessary to consider the structure as the subject of study. The understanding of structuralism, first XIX. XX with the end of the century. It emerged with the formalist understanding of psychology, which was put forward in an idealist structure at the beginning of the century. Later, with the work of the French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, it was realized in the field of linguistics and spread to various anthropology branches.

Constructivist studies in various fields today take linguistic structuralism as an example. Linguistic structuralism, on the other hand, tries to explain the subject it deals with with the structure (linguistic whole) on which that subject is dependent. Ferdinand de Saussure says: “It is a great mistake to regard a term as merely the combination of any sound with any concept. To define the term as such would be to abstract it from the system on which it is dependent, which means believing that a linguistic system can be established by starting from the terms and obtaining their sum. on the contrary, it is necessary to start from the linguistic structure (or, synonymously, the linguistic system) in order to extract the linguistic elements in it by analysis.

Each language has a unique structure and linguistic elements can only be explained and comprehended based on this structure. This understanding of Saussure has been developed over time, and various structural understandings that are very different from each other have been put forward. For this reason, today, structuralism is talked about rather than structuralism. Structuralism is against evolutionary study. It does not take into account the evolution of the structure. He sees the structure as a whole consisting of simultaneous interrelations. Moreover, structuralism is descriptive, it describes language as a structure. Because of these qualities, it carries metaphysical and idealistic elements.

For example, in the structuralism applied by the French ethnologist Levi-Strauss to the field of ethnology, all structures are reduced to mental structures in the final analysis. This is clearly Kantian idealism. Furthermore, Levi-Strauss argues that structure is only a program (program) and not a reality. This means contrasting the object and the elements that make it up with a metaphysical understanding. Moreover, according to Strauss, the structure is also against the historical.

In other words, it has no temporality, it is only simultaneous, and must be considered independent of duration, except evolution. He says: “The ethnologist (ethnologist) is a witness unfamiliar with the subject whose structure he studies”. How can the function and structure of a leg be understood by pushing aside the laws of evolution and historical development? Despite such misconceptions, structuralism is spreading more and more in our age. For example, the French thinker Louis Althusser tries to test him in dialectical thought.

M. Foucault a structuralist philosophy, f. Lacon tried to develop a structuralist Freudianism, Pierre Francastel tried to develop a structuralist sociology of art. The concept of structure is expressed with the concepts of form in psychology and aesthetics, groups in mathematics, organism in life science, and model in cybernetics.


Saussure, taking care to give linguistics a scientific status, determined a terminology to eliminate the ambiguity of the concept of language. Indeed, before that language, expression, and lyrics were used in features that varied from writer to writer. This created a terminological ambiguity that made it impossible to construct a true linguistic theory.

Definition of Language

According to Saussere, ‘language must be accepted through the social structure in order for the speech ability of the individual to be used.