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Posted on March 16th, 2013, by

The demand in the global philosophic systems until the mid 19th century was due to the unification of the world by European culture. Therefore, the system-start of all the classical philosophical doctrines that view the world as some integrity, were the only reason of being. The 20th century, which started the era of the information civilization, revealed the incompleteness and limitations of these schemes, revealing the inexhaustible variety of forms of being the world’s developing systems. The unity of the world appeared as intrinsically different, heterogeneous, discrete, contradictory and diverse. Immediate infinite variety of creation, in turn, required not only new forms of worldview, but also new methodological forms of new technology for constructing philosophical concepts.

One of the lines of the philosophical search that focused on these processes is structuralism. Structuralism, as a set of directions in a range of sciences (linguistics, literature, ethnography, history, aesthetics, art history, psychology, sociology, philosophy), united by common philosophical and epistemological views, methodological settings and specificity analysis, was formed from the beginning of the 20th century till the 40-ies (Duffy 1992).

Structuralism is the intellectual movement, which is characterized by the desire to reveal patterns that underlie the social and cultural phenomena. Methodological model for structuralism is structural linguistics – the most influential direction in the science of language in the 20th century. A linguist tries to describe explicitly the latent opposition, the structure and rules that make possible the linguistic expression, whereas the structuralist sees clothing, literature, etiquette, myths, gestures as multiple languages, which are used for communication by the representatives of a culture; he tries to allocate hidden system of oppositions, in each case to determine the structure of specific activities or objects.

The most widespread and influential in such fields as linguistics, cultural anthropology and literary criticism, structuralism found its expression in other areas also. The central figure of the movement was the linguist Roman Jakobson, an anthropologist K.Levi-Strauss, literary R. Barth, child psychology researcher Jean Piaget, a specialist in the intellectual history of Michel Foucault and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Success of the movement contributed to the development of semiotics, ie, analysis of various phenomena in terms of sign systems. As an intellectual movement that goes beyond linguistics, structuralism has been particularly influential in France in 1960 (Saldanha 2008).

Modern structuralism, as a separate theory began with the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. In the social and political theory, structuralism refers to attempts to apply the methods that proved themselves in structural linguistics, social and political phenomena. Its distinctive methodological feature is that individual units of each system have meaning only within their relationships to each other. Saussure, who did not use the definition the structure and liked the word system, saw the language as a system of symbols to be analyzed simultaneously; it should be regarded as self-sufficient system at this particular moment of time, but not in the process of historical development (Andreas 2011). French sociologist and anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss introduced the theory of knowledge of social science, saying that analysts need to develop models to discover the underlying structural mechanisms that govern the phenomena on the surface of social life. Levi-Strauss discovered unconscious mental structures, which he believed, were the foundation of all human institutions (Duffy 1992). Structuralism also had an enormous influence on political science and international studies. An example of this can be seen in structuralism of Marxism, although many critics say that Marxism is merely used the idea of the structural background of society.

In international relations, structuralism has two different meanings. Latin American structuralism refers to the influential doctrines of Prebisch and the Economic UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA). Prebisch said that there was a need not only for national industrialization strategy and reduce of import, but also to regional integration and international cooperation between exporters of primary products. That policy and the analysis that precedes it, became the official doctrine of the Third World after the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in 1964. Its main chairman was Prebisch and it was difficult not to see the neo-Marxist ideas in his concept (Demopoulos 2011).

From another point of view, structuralism can apply to the realist theory of international relations by Kenneth Waltz (Sturrock 2003). Instability and war were not the result of corruption of human nature or the existence of countries with weak constitutional norms and the changing power-sharing between countries in the anarchic international system. Early interpretations that focused attention on the states themselves, and their leader, were dismissed as weak. The debate between structuralists, which usually presented excerpts from the microeconomic theory of imperfect competition, focused on a bipolar or multipolar structure.

Works Cited

Andreas, Holger. A Structuralist Theory of Belief Revision. Journal of Logic, Language and Information, April 2011, Volume 20, Number 2, pp. 205-232.
Demopoulos, William. Three Views of Theoretical Knowledge. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, March 2011, Volume 62, Number 1, pp. 177-205.
Duffy, Jean H. Structuralism: theory and practice. 1992. p. 32. Print.
Saldanha, Anna. Heterotopia and structuralism. Environment and Planning, 2008, Volume 40, Number 9, pp. 2080 2096.

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