French Structuralism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
structuralism, post-structuralism

French Structuralism was a school of thought active in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily concerned with the underlying structures which form, limit and affect society, language and the human mind. It finds its roots in the thought of Ferdinand de Saussure, who was concerned with linguistics, and in the the Prague school of structuralism in the mid-1920s.

Structuralism was also applied to anthropology, social sciences and psychology. Structuralism played a major role in intellectual thought after World War Two, where it rejected existential concepts of freedom for the idea of man as determined by structures in the thought of such thinkers as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jacques Lacan. However, by the end of the century it became perceived as important not for itself, but for the schools of thought it produced, such as poststructuralism and deconstruction.

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908) applied Saussure’s structuralism to anthropology, perhaps most famously to the dreams of tribes.

Roland Barthes (1915 - 1980) was a literary critic and semiologist who applied Saussure’s thought to literary theory. In Mythologies Barthes explored articles, advertisements, movies, etc. to demonstrate the deep-seated bourgeois propaganda found within. He described these myths as second-order signs. A certain form of green bottles signify red wine. The bourgeois then assign a second signifier to this signifier, that of relaxing, healthy, strong wine, be it to sell products or uphold the status quo.

Jacques Lacan (1901 - 1981) was a psychoanalyst who strived to explain the mind in terms of structures to fix what he saw as mistakes in Freud’s thought through the theories of Saussure, Strauss and Barthes.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "French Structuralism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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