ساختارگرایی یکی از نظریههای رایج در علوم اجتماعی است. بر پایه این طرز فکر، تعدادی ساختار ناپیدا و ناملموس، چارچوب اصلی پدیدههای ظاهری اجتماع را تشکیل میدهند. روش ساختارگرایی در نیمه دوم سدهٔ بیستم از سوی تحلیلگران زبان، فرهنگ، فلسفهٔ ریاضی و جامعه به گونهای گسترده بکار برده میشد. اندیشههای فردینان دو سوسور را میتوان آغازگاه این مکتب دانست. هرچند پس از وی ساختارگرایی تنها به زبانشناسی محدود نشد و در راههای گوناگونی بکار گرفته شد و مانند دیگر جنبشهای فرهنگی، اثرگذاری و بالندگی آن بسیار پیچیدهاست. با اینحال، ساختارگرایی عموماً به اندیشهٔ فرانسویِ دههٔ ۱۹۶۰ اطلاق میشود و با نام متفکرانی چون کلود لوی-استروس، رولان بارت، میشل فوکو، ژرار ژنت، لوئی آلتوسر، ژاک لاکان، آلژیر داس گرهماس، و ژان پیاژه آمیخته شدهاست. ساختارگراییِ فرانسوی به رغم آنکه با فرمالیسم روسی و شاخههای فرعی آن نظیر مکتب پراگ و ساختارگراییِ لهستانی پیوند تنگاتنگی دارد، به واسطهٔ تنوع خود و توانِ میانرشتهایاش، از آنها متمایز است. ساختارگرایی به منزلهٔ مرحلهای فراسوی انسانگرایی و پدیدارشناسی، به بررسی روابط درونیای میپردازد که زبان و نیز تمامیِ نظامهای نمادین یا گفتمانی را میسازند.
ساختارگرایی، نخست با مطالعه ساختار زبان آغاز شد. اما بعداً توسعه یافت و با دربرگرفتن موضوعات انسان شناختی و اسطورهای، رشد و گسترش یافت. ساختارگرایان به این نتیجه دست یافتند که زبان یک ساختمان اجتماعی است؛ و هر فرهنگ، برای رسیدن به ساختارهای معنایی، روایتها یا متنها را وسیع و متحول میکند؛ و بدین شیوه، مردم میتوانند تجارب خود را سامان دهند و معنا ببخشند. ساختارگراییِ قرن بیستم به معنای دقیق آن با مجموعهای از درسگفتارهای زبانشناس سوییسی، فردینان دوسوسور، در دانشگاه ژنو آغاز شد؛ درس گفتارهایی که پس از مرگ او، بر اساس یادداشتهایی که از آنها تهیه شده بود، با عنوان دورهٔ زبانشناسی عمومی (۱۹۱۶) منتشر شد.
ساختارگرایی به دنبال راهی است برای شرح و گزارش پیوند درونیای که از طریق آن معنایی در یک فرهنگ ساخته میشود. کاربرد دوم آن که به تازگی دیده شدهاست در فلسفهٔ ریاضی میباشد. بر پایهٔ اندیشهٔ ساختارگرا معنا در یک فرهنگ از راه پدیدهها و کارکردهای گوناگونی که سامانه معنایی را میسازند، بارها پدیدار میشود. ساختارگرایی میتواند به پژوهش در ساختارهای نشانهمندی مانند آیینهای پرستش، بازیها، نوشتارهای ادبی و غیر ادبی، رسانهها و هر چه که در آن معنایی از درون فرهنگی بدست آید، بپردازد و ساختار آن را بررسی نماید.
از سوسور به بعد یافتن ساختارها، اصلیترین دل مشغولی پژوهشگران در علوم مختلف، از جمله ادبیات گردید. تئوری نظاممند بودن زبان منتقدان را بر آن داشت که ادبیات را نیز نظامی همبسته بدانند و همان تمایزی را که سوسور میان زبان و گفتار مییافت، میان مطلق ادبیات و سبکهای (genre) گوناگون بیابند. زبانشناسی ساختار گرا توجه خود را به مصادیق متنوع زبان یعنی گفتارها معطوف میکند. در سبکشناسی ساختاری هر چند، منتقد علاقهمندی خود را به حفظ نظریهپردازی در باب ادبیات حفظ میکند. اما اصلیترین کوشش او تشریح مصادیق و الحان مختلف ادبیات، یعنی ژانرهای مختلف و چگونگی متابعت یا عدول از معیار مسلط و نرم (norm) تثبیت شدهاست.
ساختار نظامی است متشکل از اجزایی که رابطهای همبسته با یکدیگر و با کل نظام دارند، یعنی اجزاء به کل و کل به اجزاء سازنده وابستهاند، چنانکه اختلال در عمل یک جز، موجب اختلال در کارکرد کل نظام میشود. لوسین گلدمن در زمینه ادبیات ساختار گفتهاست: "در ادبیات منظور از ساختارگرایی بیشتر به معنای نظامی است که بر پایه زبانشناسی استوار است… وظیفه نقد ساختاری از ۳ مرحله تشکیل میشود:
اما آنچه در نقد ساختاری بیشترین اهمیت را دارد آن است که این روش نمیکوشد تا معانی درونی اثر را آشکار کند، بلکه کوشش آن بر این است که سازههای یک متن را استخراج کند. به گفته لوی استروس، شاید روش ساختارگرایی چیزی بیش از این نباشد، تلاش برای یافتن عنصر دگرگونی ناپذیر در میان تمایزهای سطحی.
این گفته در واقع جانمایه ساختارگرایی را روشن میسازد. ساختارگرا باید تمایزهای سطحی و ظاهری بین متون را کناز زده، تا به آن عنصر یکه و ثابت متون همپایه دست یابد.
اگر بخواهیم به آغازگاه ساختارگرایی بازگردیم، بیشک باید به اصلیترین متن آغازی تاریخی آن، یعنی نظریه بوطیقا (Poetics) یا فن شعر ارسطو (و نیز رساله فن شاعری هوراس) بازگردیم. هنگامی که ارسطو میگوید: «پس به حکم ضرورت، در تراژدی شش جزء وجود دارد که تراژدی از آنها ترکیب مییابد و ماهیت آن، بدان شش چیز حاصل میگردد». به واقع کاری جز استخراج اجزاء تراژدی و یافتن سازههای سازنده آن نمیکند. نکته جذاب این است که خود اصطلاح Poetics از واژه یونانی Poetikos به معنای شناخت ساختار ادبی و از ریشه Poesis به معنای ساختن اخذ شدهاست.
اما نقد ساختاری به معنای امروزی آن، در واقع در حدود دهه ۱۹۶۰، به منظور به کار بستن روشها و دریافتهای سوسور در عرصه ادبیات شکوفا شد. ما در واقع تاکنون چیزی جز نظریان ساختارگرایان در باب ادبیات بیان نکردهایم.
در حالی که ساختارگرایی همواره سویههای متفاوت و جذابی یافتهاست: میشل فوکو کوشید تا با مطالعه ریزنگارانه اسناد تاریخی، ساختار و سویه تاریخ بند باورها و نهادها (همچون طرد دیوانگان از جامعه، زایش درمانگاه، تاریخ پزشکی، تاریخ مجازات و زندان و تاریخ جنسیت) را عیان سازد. موضوعات مورد پژوهش وی، چه در درونمایه و چه در ظاهر با تحقیقات رایج تاریخی متفاوت است. ژاک لاکان سعی نمود تا با بهرهگیری از دو تفکر مسلط روزگار خود، یعنی روانکاوی فروید و زبانشناسی سوسور، اختلالات روانی تشریح کرده و روانشناسی ساختارگرا را بنیان نهد.
Structuralism uncovers the fundamental component of mental activities
In sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, structuralism is the methodology that implies elements of human culture must be understood by way of their relationship to a broader, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternatively, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract structure".
Structuralism in Europe developed in the early 1900s, mainly in France and Russian Empire, in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague, Moscow and Copenhagen schools of linguistics. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when structural linguistics were facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance, an array of scholars in the humanities borrowed Saussure's concepts for use in their respective fields of study. French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss was arguably the first such scholar, sparking a widespread interest in structuralism.
The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, economics and architecture. The most prominent thinkers associated with structuralism include Claude Lévi-Strauss, linguist Roman Jakobson, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. As an intellectual movement, structuralism was initially presumed to be the heir apparent to existentialism. However, by the late 1960s, many of structuralism's basic tenets came under attack from a new wave of predominantly French intellectuals such as the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the philosopher Jacques Derrida, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the literary critic Roland Barthes. Though elements of their work necessarily relate to structuralism and are informed by it, these theorists have generally been referred to as post-structuralists. In the 1970s, structuralism was criticized for its rigidity and ahistoricism. Despite this, many of structuralism's proponents, such as Lacan, continue to assert an influence on continental philosophy and many of the fundamental assumptions of some of structuralism's post-structuralist critics are a continuation of structuralism.
The term structuralism in reference to social science first appeared in the works of French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who gave rise in France to the structuralist movement, influencing the thinking of other writers such as Louis Althusser, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, as well as the structural Marxism of Nicos Poulantzas, most of whom disavowed themselves as being a part of this movement.
The origins of structuralism connect with the work of Ferdinand de Saussure on linguistics, along with the linguistics of the Prague and Moscow schools. In brief, Saussure's structural linguistics propounded three related concepts.
Proponents of structuralism would argue that a specific domain of culture may be understood by means of a structure—modelled on language—that is distinct both from the organizations of reality and those of ideas or the imagination—the "third order". In Lacan's psychoanalytic theory, for example, the structural order of "the Symbolic" is distinguished both from "the Real" and "the Imaginary"; similarly, in Althusser's Marxist theory, the structural order of the capitalist mode of production is distinct both from the actual, real agents involved in its relations and from the ideological forms in which those relations are understood.
Blending Freud and Saussure, the French (post)structuralist Jacques Lacan applied structuralism to psychoanalysis and, in a different way, Jean Piaget applied structuralism to the study of psychology. But Jean Piaget, who would better define himself as constructivist, considers structuralism as "a method and not a doctrine" because for him "there exists no structure without a construction, abstract or genetic".
Although the French theorist Louis Althusser is often associated with a brand of structural social analysis which helped give rise to "structural Marxism", such association was contested by Althusser himself in the Italian foreword to the second edition of Reading Capital. In this foreword Althusser states the following:
In a later development, feminist theorist Alison Assiter enumerated four ideas that she says are common to the various forms of structuralism. First, that a structure determines the position of each element of a whole. Second, that every system has a structure. Third, structural laws deal with co-existence rather than change. Fourth, structures are the "real things" that lie beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning.
In Course in General Linguistics the analysis focuses not on the use of language (called "parole", or speech), but rather on the underlying system of language (called "langue"). This approach examines how the elements of language relate to each other in the present, synchronically rather than diachronically. Saussure argued that linguistic signs were composed of two parts:
This was quite different from previous approaches that focused on the relationship between words and the things in the world that they designate. Other key notions in structural linguistics include paradigm, syntagm, and value (though these notions were not fully developed in Saussure's thought). A structural "idealism" is a class of linguistic units (lexemes, morphemes or even constructions) that are possible in a certain position in a given linguistic environment (such as a given sentence), which is called the "syntagm". The different functional role of each of these members of the paradigm is called "value" (valeur in French).
Saussure's Course influenced many linguists between World War I and World War II. In the United States, for instance, Leonard Bloomfield developed his own version of structural linguistics, as did Louis Hjelmslev in Denmark and Alf Sommerfelt in Norway. In France Antoine Meillet and Émile Benveniste continued Saussure's project, and members of the Prague school of linguistics such as Roman Jakobson and Nikolai Trubetzkoy conducted research that would be greatly influential. However, by the 1950s Saussure's linguistic concepts were under heavy criticism and were soon largely abandoned by practicing linguists:
The clearest and most important example of Prague school structuralism lies in phonemics. Rather than simply compiling a list of which sounds occur in a language, the Prague school sought to examine how they were related. They determined that the inventory of sounds in a language could be analysed in terms of a series of contrasts. Thus in English the sounds /p/ and /b/ represent distinct phonemes because there are cases (minimal pairs) where the contrast between the two is the only difference between two distinct words (e.g. 'pat' and 'bat'). Analyzing sounds in terms of contrastive features also opens up comparative scope—it makes clear, for instance, that the difficulty Japanese speakers have differentiating /r/ and /l/ in English is because these sounds are not contrastive in Japanese. Phonology would become the paradigmatic basis for structuralism in a number of different fields.
According to structural theory in anthropology and social anthropology, meaning is produced and reproduced within a culture through various practices, phenomena and activities that serve as systems of signification. A structuralist approach may study activities as diverse as food-preparation and serving rituals, religious rites, games, literary and non-literary texts, and other forms of entertainment to discover the deep structures by which meaning is produced and reproduced within the culture. For example, Lévi-Strauss analysed in the 1950s cultural phenomena including mythology, kinship (the alliance theory and the incest taboo), and food preparation. In addition to these studies, he produced more linguistically focused writings in which he applied Saussure's distinction between langue and parole in his search for the fundamental structures of the human mind, arguing that the structures that form the "deep grammar" of society originate in the mind and operate in people unconsciously. Lévi-Strauss took inspiration from mathematics.
Another concept used in structural anthropology came from the Prague school of linguistics, where Roman Jakobson and others analysed sounds based on the presence or absence of certain features (such as voiceless vs. voiced). Lévi-Strauss included this in his conceptualization of the universal structures of the mind, which he held to operate based on pairs of binary oppositions such as hot-cold, male-female, culture-nature, cooked-raw, or marriageable vs. tabooed women.
A third influence came from Marcel Mauss (1872–1950), who had written on gift-exchange systems. Based on Mauss, for instance, Lévi-Strauss argued that kinship systems are based on the exchange of women between groups (a position known as 'alliance theory') as opposed to the 'descent'-based theory described by Edward Evans-Pritchard and Meyer Fortes. While replacing Marcel Mauss at his Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes chair, Lévi-Strauss' writing became widely popular in the 1960s and 1970s and gave rise to the term "structuralism" itself.
In Britain, authors such as Rodney Needham and Edmund Leach were highly influenced by structuralism. Authors such as Maurice Godelier and Emmanuel Terray combined Marxism with structural anthropology in France. In the United States, authors such as Marshall Sahlins and James Boon built on structuralism to provide their own analysis of human society. Structural anthropology fell out of favour in the early 1980s for a number of reasons. D'Andrade suggests that this was because it made unverifiable assumptions about the universal structures of the human mind. Authors such as Eric Wolf argued that political economy and colonialism should be at the forefront of anthropology. More generally, criticisms of structuralism by Pierre Bourdieu led to a concern with how cultural and social structures were changed by human agency and practice, a trend which Sherry Ortner has referred to as 'practice theory'.
Some anthropological theorists, however, while finding considerable fault with Lévi-Strauss's version of structuralism, did not turn away from a fundamental structural basis for human culture. The Biogenetic Structuralism group for instance argued that some kind of structural foundation for culture must exist because all humans inherit the same system of brain structures. They proposed a kind of neuroanthropology which would lay the foundations for a more complete scientific account of cultural similarity and variation by requiring an integration of cultural anthropology and neuroscience—a program that theorists such as Victor Turner also embraced.
In literary theory and criticism
In literary theory, structuralist criticism relates literary texts to a larger structure, which may be a particular genre, a range of intertextual connections, a model of a universal narrative structure, or a system of recurrent patterns or motifs. The field of structuralist semiotics argues that there must be a structure in every text, which explains why it is easier for experienced readers than for non-experienced readers to interpret a text. Hence, everything that is written seems to be governed by specific rules, or a "grammar of literature", that one learns in educational institutions and that are to be unmasked.
A potential problem of structuralist interpretation is that it can be highly reductive, as scholar Catherine Belsey puts it: "the structuralist danger of collapsing all difference." An example of such a reading might be if a student concludes the authors of West Side Story did not write anything "really" new, because their work has the same structure as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In both texts a girl and a boy fall in love (a "formula" with a symbolic operator between them would be "Boy + Girl") despite the fact that they belong to two groups that hate each other ("Boy's Group - Girl's Group" or "Opposing forces") and conflict is resolved by their death. Structuralist readings focus on how the structures of the single text resolve inherent narrative tensions. If a structuralist reading focuses on multiple texts, there must be some way in which those texts unify themselves into a coherent system. The versatility of structuralism is such that a literary critic could make the same claim about a story of two friendly families ("Boy's Family + Girl's Family") that arrange a marriage between their children despite the fact that the children hate each other ("Boy - Girl") and then the children commit suicide to escape the arranged marriage; the justification is that the second story's structure is an 'inversion' of the first story's structure: the relationship between the values of love and the two pairs of parties involved have been reversed.
Structuralistic literary criticism argues that the "literary banter of a text" can lie only in new structure, rather than in the specifics of character development and voice in which that structure is expressed. Literary structuralism often follows the lead of Vladimir Propp, Algirdas Julien Greimas, and Claude Lévi-Strauss in seeking out basic deep elements in stories, myths, and more recently, anecdotes, which are combined in various ways to produce the many versions of the ur-story or ur-myth.
There is considerable similarity between structural literary theory and Northrop Frye's archetypal criticism, which is also indebted to the anthropological study of myths. Some critics have also tried to apply the theory to individual works, but the effort to find unique structures in individual literary works runs counter to the structuralist program and has an affinity with New Criticism.
History and background
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, existentialism, such as that propounded by Jean-Paul Sartre, was the dominant European intellectual movement. Structuralism rose to prominence in France in the wake of existentialism, particularly in the 1960s. The initial popularity of structuralism in France led to its spread across the globe.
Structuralism rejected the concept of human freedom and choice and focused instead on the way that human experience and thus, behaviour, is determined by various structures. The most important initial work on this score was Claude Lévi-Strauss's 1949 volume The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Lévi-Strauss had known Jakobson during their time together at the New School in New York during WWII and was influenced by both Jakobson's structuralism as well as the American anthropological tradition. In Elementary Structures he examined kinship systems from a structural point of view and demonstrated how apparently different social organizations were in fact different permutations of a few basic kinship structures. In the late 1950s he published Structural Anthropology, a collection of essays outlining his program for structuralism.
By the early 1960s structuralism as a movement was coming into its own and some believed that it offered a single unified approach to human life that would embrace all disciplines. Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida focused on how structuralism could be applied to literature.[dubious ]
Interpretations and general criticisms
Structuralism is less popular today than other approaches, such as post-structuralism and deconstruction. Structuralism has often been criticized for being ahistorical and for favouring deterministic structural forces over the ability of people to act. As the political turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s (and particularly the student uprisings of May 1968) began affecting academia, issues of power and political struggle moved to the center of people's attention.
In the 1980s, deconstruction—and its emphasis on the fundamental ambiguity of language rather than its crystalline logical structure—became popular. By the end of the century structuralism was seen as an historically important school of thought, but the movements that it spawned, rather than structuralism itself, commanded attention.
Several social thinkers and academics have strongly criticized structuralism or even dismissed it in toto. The French hermeneutic philosopher Paul Ricœur (1969) criticized Lévi-Strauss for constantly overstepping the limits of validity of the structuralist approach, ending up in what Ricœur described as "a Kantianism without a transcendental subject". Anthropologist Adam Kuper (1973) argued that "'Structuralism' came to have something of the momentum of a millennial movement and some of its adherents felt that they formed a secret society of the seeing in a world of the blind. Conversion was not just a matter of accepting a new paradigm. It was, almost, a question of salvation." Philip Noel Pettit (1975) called for an abandoning of "the positivist dream which Lévi-Strauss dreamed for semiology" arguing that semiology is not to be placed among the natural sciences. Cornelius Castoriadis (1975) criticized structuralism as failing to explain symbolic mediation in the social world; he viewed structuralism as a variation on the "logicist" theme, and he argued that, contrary to what structuralists advocate, language—and symbolic systems in general—cannot be reduced to logical organizations on the basis of the binary logic of oppositions. Critical theorist Jürgen Habermas (1985) accused structuralists, such as Foucault, of being positivists; he remarked that while Foucault is not an ordinary positivist, he nevertheless paradoxically uses the tools of science to criticize science (see Performative contradiction and Foucault–Habermas debate). Sociologist Anthony Giddens (1993) is another notable critic; while Giddens draws on a range of structuralist themes in his theorizing, he dismisses the structuralist view that the reproduction of social systems is merely "a mechanical outcome".