Reference Entry


in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Communication and Critical Cultural Studies

Published in print March 2019 | ISBN: 9780190459611
Published online March 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190459635

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As the name implies, poststructuralism is that which is arrived at after passing through and going beyond “structure.” Post-structuralism is neither a kind of primitivism that celebrates some mythic state of nature when human beings were without structure nor a kind of nihilism that simply rejects the existence or legitimacy of all structures whatsoever. Rather, post-structuralism represents a set of attitudes and a style of critique that developed in critical response to the growth and identification of the logic of structural relations that underlie social institutions—whether they exist in terms of politics, economics, education, medicine, literature, or the sciences. Post-structuralism should therefore not be thought of as a distinct philosophy that exists separately as its own “structure”—a proposition that would undermine its most fundamental attitudes. Rather, post-structuralism should be thought of as developing or arising only in response to pre-existing structures and, as a set of attitudes, helping us better understand, interpret, and alter our social environment by calling established meanings into question, revealing the points of ambiguity and indeterminacy inherent in any system, rejecting the rationalistic piety that all systems are internally coherent and circle around an unchanging center, showing how discourses are carriers of power capable of turning us into subjects, and placing upon us the burden of ethical responsibility that accompanies the acceptance of freedom....

Reference Entry.  8608 words. 

Subjects: Social Sciences ; Communication Studies

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