Structuralism emerged as a reaction to the vision specific to 19th-century sociological thinking, dominated by the idea that social elements must be understood from the perspective of and with the help of their concrete, empirical characteristics (e.g., Herbert Spencer’s organicism, Émile Durkheim’s functionalism, and Karl Marx’s economic determinism). Structuralism argues that the specificity of a social or cultural element derives from the position it occupies in relation to other elements. In other words, behind concrete facts is a structure formed by the relations between elements, and the meaning of these elements is given by their relations with other elements within this network of relations. The conceptual model of structuralism is provided by linguistics and mathematics, where abstract structures determine concrete configurations.

The key figures of structuralism ...

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