theory that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure

Structuralism is an idea in many sciences, especially social sciences. Structuralism says that when looking at the way culture works, it is important to look at the structure.[1][2] For example, structuralism is important in the study of languages and how they affect culture. The word structuralism comes from "structure." It has been in use since the 19th century.

Systems have structure:

  • When looking at the system as a whole, it is more than the sum of its parts
  • Different elements of a system depend on each other; changing one element will also affect the others
  • Elements change over time, according to a set of rules
  • Changes regulate themselves
  • Even though it changes, the system as a whole, will have its identity; it is different from other systems
  • It is possible to create the system in its current state, though a predefined set of operations


  1. Gabriel Lopez-Garrido (January 7, 2021). "Structuralism and Titchener". Simply Psychology. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  2. "Structuralism and Semiotics (1920s-present)". Purdue OWL. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021. Retrieved May 4, 2021.