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I'm aware that Levi-strauss used structuralist ideas in anthropology - are there any simple examples of how he used these ideas. I'm also aware of it being used in literature - how is that done. Are there good examples of this kind of analysis to look at?

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Basically, he used structuralist principles in two major ways:

  • To situate his subject of study (kinship, food preparation, myths, etc.) within a larger frame such as the group or the culture.
  • To establish dualities (binary oppositions) or other counter-balancing forces in the subject of study, along the lines of the distinctions made by Saussure when studying language (i.e. parole vs. langue).

For example, Lévi-Strauss proposed that myths must follow some kind of universal patterns, similar to archetypes if you wish; this makes myths from different cultures to be comparable, for instance. The Savage Mind and The Raw and the Cooked are two books by Lévi-Strauss where you can see the details of this.

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