chapter  2
16 Pages

18 STRUCTURALISM

BySeth D. Kunin

French (or classical) structuralism (henceforth structuralism) provides a fascinating approach to the study of religion and culture. 1 Rather than discussing or explaining the details of particular practices, structuralism explores the abstract structures or rules that allow religions and cultures to work and to communicate meaningfully. Using the analogy of language, structuralism explains how meaningful cultural objects can be created, just as the study of grammar and syntax explain how meaningful sentences can be created. Structuralism allows for the understanding of a system as a whole, that is, how all the parts of the system work, rather than focusing on and attempting to explain any single part of the system.