(Post)structuralism

Tremlett, Paul-François (2016). (Post)structuralism. In: Engler, Steven and Stausberg, Michael eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Study of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 220–234.

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Abstract

• Structuralism and post-structuralism should be understood as part of a ‘turn’ in social theory and philosophy to ‘systems.’
• Lévi-Strauss’ approach to myth entwines linguistics and dynamic systems theory, pointing ‘back’ to formalism and ‘forward’ to post-structuralism.
• Lévi-Strauss’ critique of evolutionist and functionalist accounts of ‘primitive’ religion undermine notions of progress and accounts of the regulatory role of religion in the closed social system described by functionalism.
• Derrida’s account of language and deconstruction privileges the idea of the open system and has significant implications for textual, historical, and sociological studies of religion.

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