Vladimir Ilić

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The College of Social Work



This paper compares and critically examines the most important features of structuralism and post-structuralism as two extremely important theoretical orientations for understanding current social and political reality in genere. In this regard, the following theoretical premises/conceptualizations will be analyzed: structure, subject, identity, linguistic forms, rhetorical incoherences of the text and generative consequences of power, that is, contextualization of its historically given/inherited institutions and practices. In addition to trying to fill the evident void of understanding these two discourses at the level of the Serbian political space, paper also pleads for their intense projection/application in the interpretation of indigenous Serbian political reality. The paper treats poststructuralism both as a kind of intrinsic critique of structuralism and as “structuralism of structuralism”, a kind of, very freely speaking, “meta-structuralism”. More or less, theoretical postulates underlying structuralism and post-structuralism, of which we distinguish anti-foundationalism and anti-essentialism, can be registered in various scientific disciplines: from sociology and ethnology, through the political science and law, to history or, even, theology. The internal thematic configuration of post-structuralism includes decentralization, anti-genesis/anti-origin and anti-totality, poststructuralism rejects categorization, positional static, and fixedness of any kind in favor of the kinetic and fluidity of different, vertical and horizontal, social statuses and identities. In doing so, the postmodern meta-narrative is perceived as a cultural manifestation/valence of the academically formulated meta-narrative of post-structuralism. Poststructuralism doesn’t accept that society is constructed, homogenized and transformed through extremely powerful and influential institutions/traditions based on ahistorical, unison, one-dimensional or singular ideas/logic. In contrast, it is, like postmodernism, multiperspective, contextual and historical, focused on specific cultures, structures, social grammars and texts. Unlike structuralism, which is primarily intended to scientifically determine these universal social structures, post-structuralism is directed to repudiate them, to diminish our confidence in them. Finally, following what James Williams says, post-structuralism occupies an important place in what might be called “Neo-Enlightenment” (Williams 2005, 153–167). Poststructuralism has the potential to become a revitalizing energy needed to restore the creative and critical attributes of all aspects of social life in terms of realizing more than necessary changes. Ergo, its further study, popularization and application is one of the important tasks of the Serbian scientific community/scene.