Alternatively, we might use a visual analogy to explain structuralism. Imagine a sculpture consisting of a number of tin cans and fishing wire. The cans are tied together in a network of thin, practically invisible strings. The whole sculpture hangs suspended in the air. One way to understand the shape of that sculpture would be to focus on each individual tin can as it appears to float in the air. I.e., we could see each can as a separate entity and focus our attention on it, ignoring the rest. In contrast, the structuralist would focus on each of those barely visible strings, and define the shape of the sculpture by how the strings link each can together. The connections themselves become the point of study rather than what they connect.


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