Liberation Sociology—My Own Mental Construction


A Look Into The Difference Between Deep and Surface Structure

It is shown that both in relativity theory and quantum theory, notions implying the undivided wholeness of the universe would provide a much more orderly way of considering the general nature of reality. –David Bohm, Wholeness And The Implicate Order

Liberation Sociology’s Structure

In his introductory chapter on structuralism Michael Lane informs us:

“Probably the most distinctive feature of the structuralist method is the emphasis it gives to wholes, to totalities. Traditionally, in Anglo-American social science, structure has been used as an analytical concept to break down sets into their constituent elements, an essentially atomistic exercise. As structuralists understand and employ the term, a new importance has been given to the logical priority of the whole over its parts. They insist that the whole and the parts can be properly explained only in terms of the relations that exist between the parts. The essential quality of the structuralist method, and its fundamental tenet, lies in its attempt to study not the elements of a whole, but the complex network of relationships that link and unite those elements.” [Michael Lane, Introduction To Structuralism, 1970, p. 14-15]

On the page following the above quote, Lane provides a diagram, which relates the observable effects of structure to non-observable structure, i.e., the structure, talked about in this paper (the structure in parentheses). In the diagram below, let the + sign represent Lane’s boxes. The top four +’s represent deep structure while the bottom three +’s represent surface structure. In Lane’s diagram lines connect the boxes.


Deep Innate structuring capacity

+ + +
Structure of Structure Structure of
language myth (liberation) kinship (myth/binary opposition)

+ + +
Speech, Myths Patterns of
discourse (culture) marriage and family relations

Saussure (language context), Chomsky (linguistic units), Cassirer (liberation), and Levi-Strauss (binary opposition) have provided considerable content, each in their own field of inquiry, on the deep structure that fills in the empty space of the deep structure boxes. The empty space in the very top box, however, for all practical purposes, remains empty. I would now like to provide the “filler” for this box. But, before I describe this “filler” I want to extend the diagram to include three more boxes, one for Foucault, with his deep structure, his power/knowledge relationship, and in the surface box, let stand his episteme vocabulary. Next we add a box for logical and mathematical thought. In the deep structure box put Godel’s Incompleteness proof, the primitive logical operators of and, or, not, and implication, and a few basic laws like contradiction and identity. In the surface level box you will find various axiomatic systems, –Peano’s axioms, multiple geometries, the logician’s truth functional propositions etc. And finally, we must add a box for Jean-Paul Sartre’s description of consciousness (being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is). Most of my description of the top box will come from Sartre’s philosophy. But, Sartre’s thought in general, cannot be included in the top box.

Sartre describes human consciousness in such a way as to allow for the “objects of consciousness” to fill in the surface level box while his deep structure, or Sartre’s for-itself structure (being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is) takes its place in the deep structure box. However, in the top box, the box that Lane calls the “innate structuring capacity” of all structures also contains the structure of being-what-is-not-while-not-being-what-is. I need to digress a bit and talk about Sartre’s ontology to make this clearer.


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