CH.8 +9 Strucure VSAgency
Structure- Societal norms=established as normal via ritual practice.
societal context that differentially constrains and enables people’s actions based on their
position in society
Agency- Individual action (What can you do to counteract structure if and when structure
infringes on your personal human rights) independent of oppressive structures.
Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-2005)- Father of structuralism
Ferdinand Saussure- Semiology; Language is a system which determines structures related to
Structure- entity whose parts conform to intrinsic law creating internal and logic
Structure of language is grammar. Structure of culture is…Women in distinguishing
Early Feminists (Patriarchal System)
Structures of societal organization are products of underlying brain structure
Mental organization is Binary
Nature VS Culture: Redux
Any event or item can be natural, cultural or both
The Incest Taboo: Natural Beings become Cultural; Universal law prohibits mating with
ensures transfer of women away from their kinship group, as objects of exchange to
cement social ties.
females become objects of exchange, lacking volition.
Sole exchange of women ignores the mobility of men and the politics involved in
acquiring social power and titles by both sexes.
Ortner + Women’s oppression Influenced by Strauss
Gender as a social construct, created by men to serve their purposes (false
Since humans have transcended nature into culture, “natural” women are devalued
Women live in cultural societies, and even shape ‘natural’infants into cultural
children and adults.
The way we think keeps women subordinate, no inherent biological subordination
de Beauvoir: men derive identity from not being women, and so women become the
Circular reasoning: males being able to establish women as ‘other’presupposes male
dominance, and does not explain it
Practice Theory(Bourdieu)- approach that analyzes not only how social structures influence
human activities, but also how human activities influence social structures.
Interpretive anthropology strives to understand culture by interpreting the symbols that
people create in order to understand how people give meaning to their world.
Culture is made up of symbolic systems, which are sets of relationships among symbols
People interact with one another in fields, spaces of conflict where they compete to
achieve their objectives.