Reading Reaction on Structuralism and Power

Topics: Michel Foucault, Sociology, Structuralism Pages: 2 (764 words) Published: March 16, 2013
This week’s readings were on structuralism and power.
The first text, “structure, sign and play”, was written by Jacques Derrida. In his text Derrida seems to discuss structuralism by arguing that there it is no longer unthinkable to think of structure as one that has no center. He argues that there is no longer a center to culture, as would be seen through a fixed frame which would act as the center presence within it. In example, during the medieval period, God would have been seen as the center since every aspect of society was referred to God and thus all actions, customs and beliefs reflected back to God. The second text by Michel Foucault, “Panopticism”, discussed Bentham’s Panopticon which was a form of arrangement of cells in dungeons and prisons. This type of prison was seen as the perfect way of building one and is compared to how society should be seen. Bentham perceived power as something that should be visible and unverifiable; this would allow for a sense of consciousness regarding the center which would then assure for a good function of power. The power was thus acted out on this invisible omnipresence; everybody would follow it even if they couldn’t see it because they knew it was there watching over them. The third text, “Structure and the Habitus”, by Pierre Bourdieu, describes the Habitus which refers to the basic but important aspects of a society that are acquired on a daily basis through everyday life actions and events. He argues that Habitus is created through a social rather than an individual process and that this leads to patterns. He believes that people’s thoughts are not the result of complete freedom of thought without any center but also that we aren’t puppets of said Habitus, completely controlled and dependant of it. He perceives the Habitus as being what creates the common sense in society and thus in how the society works and is structured accordingly to what is deemed appropriate and what isn’t. Derrida seems to disagree...
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