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Now one of the most respected words in the lexicon of the human sciences, ‘structure’ lends to its many theoretic uses something solid and well-made about its very sound. The concept originated in anatomy and was quickly borrowed by architects; in both cases, it refers ideally to the completeness of integration and the smoothness and dependability of articulation, in a body or a building. Physical anthropologists of the nineteenth century naturally borrowed it from anatomists, and it was obviously useful to the science of geology, which picked up speed after Darwin opened the way, and to the technology of heavy engineering.

It is hard to say whether the use of ‘structure’ to designate social organisation is a metaphor or not. There so clearly are empirical ...

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