Structuralism in Social Science: Obsolete or Promising?

Josef Menšík



The approach of structuralism came to philosophy from social science. It was also in social science where, in 1950–1970s, in the form of the French structuralism, the approach gained its widest recognition. Since then, however, the approach fell out of favour in social science. Recently, structuralism is gaining currency in the philosophy of mathematics. After ascertaining that the two structuralisms indeed share a common core, the question stands whether general structuralism could not find its way back into social science. The nature of the major objections raised against French structuralism – concerning its alleged ahistoricism, methodological holism and universalism – are reconsidered. While admittedly grounded as far as French structuralism is concerned, these objections do not affect  general structuralism as such. The fate of French structuralism thus does not seem to preclude the return of general structuralism into social science, rather, it provides some hints where the difficulties may lie.


structuralism; social ontology; methodology of economics; philosophy of social science; philosophy of mathematics

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