At its most general this refers to the basic framework or form of society. Elements of a physical structure such as an artefact are often associated with function, hence functionalist and structural‐functionalist theory treats society as analogous to an organism with each institutional part (religion, economy, etc.) functioning to maintain the whole. Such an approach is related to systems theory, and both have generally received much application in processual archaeology. More particularly, structure refers to the longue durée in Braudel's temporal scheme, the fundamental baseline of a historical period, seen by the earlier Annales historians as essentially geographical or environmental in character. In spite of such refinement of the concept, it is perhaps overworked in the social sciences, ‘structured’ now being used to mean little more than organized, patterned, or non‐random.
Subjects: Archaeology — Media Studies.