Two views of Structuralism:
1. a method of studying language and society and the works of artists and novelists
2. an overall worldview that provides and organic as opposed to atomistic account of reality and knowledge
-the second take leads to the view that reality is not composed of things but RELATIONSHIPS.
-all objects have a presence and an absence
-claims to discover permanent structures behind or beneath things
-analyses tend to be 'synchronic' (ahistorical) rather than 'diachronic' (historical)
-extremists will deny the importance of history, many are nostalgic for primitive cultures that were oblivious to the existence of change
Jacques Lacan's "Symbolic Order" - the universal, unchanging order of things.
-this makes Structuralism opposed to the Existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre or to any other form of Humanism that emphasizes the individual.
-in Structuralism, there is a 'disappearance of the subject' as it is spawned by and absorbed back into the general structure.
-Structuralism is therefore more tied to 17th century continental rationalists rather than British empiricists.