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Saussure argued that linguists needed to move beyond the recording of parole individual speech acts and come to an understanding of langue , the grammar of each language.
The structures that form the "deep grammar" of society originate in the mind and operate unconsciously albeit not in a Freudian sense. Another concept was borrowed from the Prague school of linguistics , which employed so-called binary oppositions in their research.
Roman Jakobson and others analysed sounds based on the presence or absence of certain features, such as "voiceless" vs. For him, opposites formed the basis of social structure and culture. For example, in the Amazon basin, two extended families would build their houses in two facing semicircles that together form a big circle.
He showed too that the ways people initially categorized animals, trees , and other natural features, were based on a series of oppositions. In his most popular work, The Raw and the Cooked , he described folk tales of tribal South America as related to one another through a series of transformations—as one opposite in tales here changed into its opposite in tales there.
For example, as the title implies, raw becomes its opposite cooked. Social structures mirror cognitive structures, meaning that patterns in social interaction can be treated as their manifestations.
While structural-functionalists looked for structures within social organisation, structuralism seeks to identify links between structures of thought and social structures. Mauss argued that gifts are not free, but rather oblige the recipient to reciprocate.
Through the gift, the givers give part of themselves, imbuing the gift a certain power that compels a response. Gift exchanges, therefore play a crucial role in creating and maintaining social relationships by establishing bonds of obligations. Gifts are not merely physical, incidental objects; they possess cultural and spiritual properties. It is a "total prestation" as Mauss called it, as it carries the power to create a system of reciprocity in which the honour of both giver and recipient are engaged.
Social relationships are therefore based on exchange; Durkheimian solidarity, according to Mauss, is best achieved through structures of reciprocity and related systems of exchange.
Over time, marriage rules create social structures because marriages are primarily forged between groups and not just between spouses. He deemed this the beginning and essence of culture, as it was the first prohibition to check natural impulses; secondarily, it divides labor by gender. Exogamy promotes inter-group alliances and forms structures of social networks. Accordingly, he grouped all possible kinship systems into a scheme containing three basic kinship structures constructed out of two types of exchange.
He called the three kinship structures elementary, semi-complex and complex. Elementary structures are based on positive marriage rules that specify whom a person must marry, while complex systems specify negative marriage rules whom one must not marry , thus leaving room for choice based on preference.
Elementary structures can operate based on two forms of exchange: restricted or direct exchange, a symmetric form of exchange between two groups also called moieties of wife-givers and wife-takers; in an initial restricted exchange FZ marries MB, with all children then being bilateral cross-cousins the daughter is both MBD and FZD.
Continued restricted exchange means that the two lineages marry together. Restricted exchange structures are generally quite uncommon. The second form of exchange within elementary structures is called generalised exchange, meaning that a man can only marry either his MBD matrilateral cross-cousin marriage or his FZD patrilateral cross-cousin marriage.
This involves an asymmetric exchange between at least three groups. Matrilateral cross-cousin marriage arrangements where the marriage of the parents is repeated by successive generations are very common in parts of Asia e.
These tribal societies are made up of multiple moieties that often split up, rendering them comparatively unstable. Generalised exchange is more integrative but contains an implicit hierarchy, as e. Consequently, the last wife-taking group in the chain is significantly inferior to the first wife-giving group to which it is supposed to give its wives.
These status inequalities can destabilise the entire system or can at least lead to an accumulation of wives and in the case of the Kachin, also of bridewealth at one end of the chain.
From a structural perspective matrilateral cross-cousin marriage is superior to its patrilateral counterpart; the latter has less potential to produce social cohesion since its exchange cycles are shorter the direction of wife exchange is reversed in each successive generation.
However, matrilateral generalised exchange poses a risk as group A depends on receiving a woman from a group that it has not itself given a woman to, producing a less immediate obligation to reciprocate compared to a restricted exchange system.
The risk created by such a delayed return is obviously lowest in restricted exchange systems. Semi-complex structures contain so many negative marriage rules that they effectively prescribe marriage to specific parties, thus somewhat resembling elementary structures. Moreover, it is not just the nuclear family as such, but alliances between families that matter in regard to the creation of social structures, reflecting the typical structuralist argument that the position of an element in the structure is more significant than the element itself.
Descent theory and alliance theory therefore look at two sides of one coin: the former emphasising bonds of consanguinity kinship by blood , the latter stressing bonds of affinity kinship by law or choice. The Leiden school[ edit ] Main article: The Leiden school Much earlier, and some miles north of Paris, a specific type of applied anthropology emerged at Leiden University , Netherlands that focused frequently on the relationship between apparent cultural phenomena found in the Indonesian archipelago : Batak , Minangkabau , Moluccas , etc.
This type of anthropology, developed by late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century scholars, was eventually called "de Leidse Richting," or "de Leidse School,".
Multiple researchers were educated in this school. This theory attracted students and researchers interested in a holistic approach, that was broad and deep, that related economic circumstances with mythological and spatial classifications and that explored the relationship between the natural world and religious, symbolic systems.
This was long before structuralism. The "Leiden" perspective drove research for many decades, influencing successive generations of anthropologists. The most recent chairs were held by J. While part of his analysis of the Kachin was simply based on incorrect ethnographic information, the rest reflected Kachin ideology but not actual practice.
In theory, Kachin groups were supposed to marry in a circle ideally consisting of five groups. In reality, the system was strongly unbalanced with built-in status differences between wife-givers and wife-takers. Overall, some lineages would accumulate more wives and material wealth than others, meaning that the system was not driven primarily by reciprocity.
The marriage system was quite messy and the chance of it breaking down increased with the number of groups involved. He thought that in practice there would be competition for women, leading to accumulation and therefore asymmetries in the system. According to Leach, in Kachin reality instabilities arose primarily from competition for bridewealth.
Leach argued that they are also or even primarily economic and political transactions and are frequently connected to transfers of rights over land, too. Leach charged the latter with neglecting the effects of material conditions on social relations.
With the advent of postmodern , interpretive- hermeneutic thought, structuralist and functionalist theories receded. Internal incoherence and a range of intrinsic limitations further reduced its appeal. Excessive emphasis of affinal ties[ edit ] By overstressing the structural significance of affinal ties, alliance theory effectively neglected the importance of descent and genealogical ties. Some societies e. African tribal societies employ descent as their primary organizational principle.
In others, alliances are of primary significance, as in e. The Yanomami fit very well into the alliance theory mold, while the Tallensi or Azande do not. His model explained practices that were not observed. Kuper allowed that exchange was the universal form of marriage, but there could be other significant factors. And even if reciprocity was the primary principle that underlies marriages, the return would not have to be in kind but could take other forms such as money, livestock, services or favours of various kinds.
Also, social cohesion through reciprocity does not have to rest primarily on the bride exchange. Mauss showed that different cultures use all kinds of gifts to create and maintain alliances. Materialistic perspectives[ edit ] Marxists shifted the attention within anthropology from an almost exclusive preoccupation with kinship to an emphasis on economic issues.
For them, social structures were primarily shaped by material conditions, property relations and class struggles. Boyer pointed out that experimental research on concepts in psychology have not supported a structuralistic view of concepts, but rather a theory-oriented or prototype-based view.
Le structuralisme de Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss, anthropologue, père du structuralisme