The Symbolic Order

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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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


[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 have derived this theory in part from Ferdinand de Saussure's

Cours de

718 words

Citation: Clark, Robert. "The Symbolic Order". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 March 2004; last revised 06 January 2009. [, accessed 30 May 2024.]

1082 The Symbolic Order 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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