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  A set of principles and procedures originally derived from linguistics and linguistic philosophy which involve moving \'beneath\' the visible and conscious designs of active human subjects in order to expose an essential logic which is supposed to bind these designs together in enduring and underlying structures that can be exposed through a series of purely intellectual operations. Structuralism was a dominant current in post-war French philosophy, where it owed much to the pioneering contributions of Roland Barthes in literary theory, Claude Lévi-Strauss in anthropology and Jean Piaget in psychology. It had an important (though contentious) impact on the development of structural Marxism (particularly the work of Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar) and on the rise of post-structuralism (including the work of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault): but it cannot be mapped directly onto either of these fields (see Merquior, 1986; Harland, 1987).

In the 1970s structuralism was extended, in a loose and for the most part programmatic fashion, into Anglophone human geography as part of the critique of empiricism and positivism that characterized modern spatial science (Tuan, 1972; Harvey, 1973; Marchand, 1974; Sayer, 1976; Gregory, 1978). In general, and in part in consequence, most human geographers came to recognize the importance of clarifying the theoretical status of the constructs with which they worked: there was a widespread acknowledgement that the \'facts\' did not \'speak for themselves\' and that all empirical inquiry required a keen theoretical sensibility. That sensibility often entailed a suspicion about voluntarism — many geographers doubted that social life could be explained in terms of the unbounded capacities of human agency — and this was given a political edge by those who believed that structures of various sorts constrained and shaped the outcomes of human actions over space. For this reason, many human geographers adopted various \'depth models\' of landscapes, space-economies and spatial systems in order to look \'beneath\' the taken-for-granted categories by means of which social life was usually comprehended. As the 1970s turned into the 1980s, however, these inquiries increasingly relied on the philosophy of realism rather than structuralism, and the most common theoretical tools used to dissect the surfaces of the social world were probably drawn from political economy rather than literary theory, anthropology or psychology. It was not until the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s that those three fields assumed a greater prominence, largely as a result of the rise of a feminist geography and the reinvigoration of cultural geography, both of which have been informed by versions of post-structuralism which, even as they seek to move beyond structuralism, nonetheless typically retain that tradition\'s deep interest in language and discourse and its profound suspicion of humanism (see anti-humanism). (DG)

References Gregory, D. 1978: Ideology, science and human geography. London: Hutchinson, 81-122. Harland, R. 1987: Superstructuralism: the philosophy of structuralism and post-structuralism. New York: Methuen. Harvey, D. 1973: Social justice and the city. London: Edward Arnold, 286-314. Marchand, B. 1974: Quantitative geography: revolution or counter-revolution? Geoforum 17: 15-24. Merquior, J. 1986: From Prague to Paris: a critique of structuralist and post-structuralist thought. London: Verso. Sayer, R.A. 1976: A critique of urban modelling: from regional science to urban and regional political economy. Progress in Planning 6: 3. Tuan, Yi-Fu 1972: Structuralism, existentialism and environmental perception. Environment and Behaviour 3: 319-31.

Suggested Reading Gregory (1978), 81-105. Merquior (1986).



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