From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, of the book by Jorge Ferrer, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory:
Structuralism seeks to uncover regular patterns behind phenomena: it "searches for invariant universal structures that organize all mental, social, cultural phenomena .. These abstract forms are considered more important than the varied cultural artefacts that give them expression (all forms are considered a type of language).
The approach can be traced to de Saussure's linguistic, distinguishing signified from signifier, and the methods of Roman Jacobson.
It was applied:
1) in linguistics, by Chomsky
2) in anthropology, by Levi-Strauss and Radcliffe-Brown
3) in psycho-analysis, by Lacan
as well as in
4) literary theory, by Roland Barthes
5) philosophy, by the early Foucault
6) in religious studies, by Paul Ricoeur
Michel Bauwens, 2003:
"Todorov writes that structuralism tries to extract the object of study from the subject producing it, for example, looking at a text without its author. For Todorov, this is a dangerous illusion. He gives as an example the scientific work of Claude Levi-Strauss whose scientific work in Mythologiques has lost much of its value, with only the conclusion still worth reading, while his personal reflections in Tristes Tropiques have withstood the test of time, and are still magisterial." (https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Biography_of_Tzvetan_Todorov)
Criticism of structuralism
Source: Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, by Jorge Ferrer.
- By Michel Foucault, in the last chapter of The Order of Things, 1970
Foucault expresses a 'self-refuting fallacy': If deep structures are determinant, it is the relatively dominant structure of the analyst's epoch, and hence, it cannot be universalist or objective, unless the speaker claims to speak from the highest form of structure.
- By Jurgen Habermas, 1992, for its downgrading of the subject
- By Derrida's post-structuralism