Levi Strauss critic of functionalism

'Levi-Strauss developed his method explicitly against functionalist notions of society as ideally stable isolates, whose different parts interlock and reinforce each other in machine-like or organism-like fashion. He has rejected some views of Durkheim and certain followers who made metaphors of organicism and mechanism central in conceptualising societies. Yet he has praised Durkheim's emphasis on contradictions that sustain social and cultural division; here Durkheim foreshadowed structuralism. Standard functionalist theories consider contradictions in any system as potential obstacles to its proper functioning, which must be corrected, repaired, purged or cured. This is a therapeutic model in which contradiction is not so much integrated as released and tensions felt by the actors thus eased. In contrast, stucturalist theories consider contradiction unavoidable; this much they share with various schools of dialectic, including Hegelian and Marxist ones. Systems, such as sets of mythic variants, operate not despite contradicton but by means of it. Systems exist for differential communication, not for stability. In the advanced structuralism of Levi-Strauss's Mythologiques, one need imagine no social stability nor even equilibrium. Rather one traces cultural codes that achieve relative and transient order out of relative randomness through contimuous adjustments, shifts and ongoing fluctuations'

James Boon, Claude Levi Strauss * In Quentin Skinner ed. The return of Grand theory to the human sciences, Canto 2000.

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