The Symbolic Order

(718 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

The “Symbolic Order” achieved its currency in Anglo-Saxon human sciences by way of Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic theory but originated in Claude Lévi-Strauss's Les structures élémentaires de la parenté (1949) [translated into English as Elementary Structures of Kinship, 1969] which used the term to group the many different codes which constitute human societies—from social identities and kinship relations to cooking and feasting rituals and religious observances—in short all cultural practices and inscriptions, whatever their language. Lévi-Strauss showed that patterns we can observe in one level are invariably linked to and determined by similar patterns in other levels. Lévi-Strauss would appear to h…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Clark, Robert. "The Symbolic Order". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 March 2004; last revised 06 January 2009.
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Psychoanalysis