The offspring of functionalism: French and british structuralism

Sociological Theory 9 (1):106-115 (1991)


Durkheim's functional and structural sociology is examined with an eye to the two structuralist modes of inquiry that it inspired, French structuralism and British structuralism. French structuralism comes from Levi-Strauss's inverting the basic ideas of Durkheim and others in the French circle, including Marcell Mauss, Robert Hertz, and Ferdinand de Saussure. British structuralism comes from A.R. Radcliffe-Brown's adoption of Durkheimian ideas to ethnographic interpretation and theoretical speculation. French structuralism produced a broad intellectual movement, whereas British structuralism culminated in network analysis, which is beginning only now to become a broad intellectual movement. In both cases, the intellectual children and grandchildren of functionalism may prove to be more influential in sociology and elsewhere than Durkheimian functionalism, the parent

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