Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Structuralist View of Social Life as the Product of Hidden, Unconscious, Forces and Its Relevance to Important Aspects of Contemporary Society

2033 Words Dec 6th, 2011 9 Pages
Introduction
Originating in the study of languages, structuralism has exerted a vast amount of influence in the social sciences especially in the work of Saussure, Levi-Strauss and Roland Barthes. Although these theorists may disagree with the exact view of structuralism, there is, on the other hand, a broad consensus that a structuralist approach to the study of human society and culture involves the notion of wholes. The purpose of this essay will be to develop the points of structuralism and the product of its strengths and weaknesses in relevance to important aspects of contemporary society. This will include the works of Saussure who was an expert on languages and talks about the rules of language. Levi Strauss who suggested that
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By the latter half of the 20th century, many of Saussure's ideas were under heavy criticism. His linguistic ideas are considered important in their time, but outdated.

Sociology of Claude Levi Strauss
Structuralism was born out of the bold attempt, by French social anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, to use linguistics as a model for the study of kinship and myth in pre-industrial societies. For Levi Strauss, communication formed the basis of human communities. He therefore suggested that anthropology must learn and develop its methodology from modern forms of linguistics derived from Ferdinand de Saussure. This is when he began to extend Saussures linguistic theory to the study of social and cultural life. Levi Strauss discovers the notion of how a system can be composed of socially contracted relationships or connections between ‘levels’, whose substantive content is of secondary interest. What is common for us all is that our minds organize things in the same way. Thought processes of the human minds are the same, what he means by this is that in order to make sense of the world we live in the mind is structured to think and classify social and cultural life in terms of logical or binary opposites. “Rather, the auditory unit is delimited by a stacked set of distinctive features. And the whole series of distinctive features exists in principle as a set of binary opposites (voice/unvoiced, open closed, front/back etc.) which, trough

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