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Perspectives on Social Structure

Levi Strauss
Levi-Strauss conceived of social structure as logic behind reality. He insisted that the term social structure has nothing to do with empirical reality but with models which are built up after it. While social relations constitute the raw materials out of which the models making up the social structure are built, the structure itself cannot be reduced to an ensemble of social relations rather such relations themselves result from such re-existing structures. The structures exhibit the characteristics of a system and are made up of several elements none of which can undergo change without effecting changes in all other elements.

Nadel views social structure as reality itself. He regards the role system of any society with its given coherence as the matrix of the social structure. He outlines two specific advantages of structural analysis. These are lending a higher degree of comparability to social data and rendering such data more readily quantifiable.Nadel contends that a particular social structure as described at a given moment is accurate only for a particular period of time. Structure and variance are not inherently contradictory rather the former is defined or built up through taking account of the latter. If variance is unlimited there would be absolute chaos and no order in social life.

In defining social structure Murdock's principle concern are the ethnographic facts and the taxonomic classification of societies on the basis of manifest readily discernible characteristics. The taxonomy established by Murdock depends primarily on varieties of kinship organization. The taxonomy is based on statistical correlation rather than the functional analysis.