Saussure (1964) also highlights the arbitrary characteristic that the signified and the signifier possess. As he points out, anything that exists does not come before its name and unable to identify themselves, at the same time, not one particular society, or can be said that they are immutable. Thus, the signifier is unchangeable and not free. Furthermore, while it is fixed by one in particular but from the use of that linguistic community, it also shows that the linguistic sign cannot be controlled illustrates a mutable characteristic where linguistic sign did not always hold its property and changed through the continuity of time. Another point is that he demonstrates the differences between la langue and la parole, where la langue refers to collective knowledge of language and la parole appoints to personal actions, a spoken word, and statements through his association of concepts and phonation. He distinguishes langue and parole to illustrates the scope that most linguists should concern. In this case, to find a systematic pattern of language in that particular time rather than making a comparison language between time (Saussure, 1964). He also compares the study of language to a chess game and emphasizes that what matter most is to consider the current position of one particular piece at that time rather than where that piece walked in the previous turn. In short, the main features of Saussure’s significant contribution to the sign theory of language lies upon two compositions that heavily gives rises of thoughts and questioning. For Saussure, the most critical factor in the sign theory of language is the process of language operation as the dimensions and ideas of signifier and signified. Both signifier and signified are two crucial elements that put together in term of the verbal process of language and how that language signifies to the social group that facilitates Saussure to develop ideas of his explanation (Saussure, 1964). As a result, his ground-breaking sign theory of language encourage numerous scholars to apply his concept and seek for a further and convoluted explanation of the social world. The following approaches are poststructuralism and post-Marxism which influenced the way they analyze social and political affairs by Saussure’s theory.
From David Howarth’s publication (2013) ‘Poststructuralism and After’ poststructuralist theorists mostly investigate the structure, formation, and the position of various social and political identities in many settings. Such settings include classes, genders, ethnicities, races, states, and sexual character (Howarth, 2013). Moreover, poststructuralist theorists also explore the state of human subjectivity and their relationship in political identities and differences. They also propose several critical debates toward the issues and misconceptions of ideology, language, and the overall role they play within the social settings that they are part of. According to David Howarth (2013), structuralism encourages poststructuralist theorists to rethink of the social world through the deconstructive approach, or what Heidegger called the metaphysics of presence. They mainly focus on the deconstruction analysis of traditional point of views toward social sciences and further raise serious queries about the Saussurean model and its underlying assumptions (Howarth, 2013). While poststructuralist scholars acknowledge the vital ideas, for example, structure, framework, articulation and the etymological sign as an indispensable hypothetical component in reexamining linguistic relationship to human and sociology. They additionally raise questions about the Suassurean model and its hidden presumptions. One of the poststructuralist theorist mentioned in his publication is Jacque Derrida who’s well known for the deconstruction and reconstruction analysis. Following Saussure’s work, Derrida later deconstructs each element of Saussure’s definition of language and stresses on the transfiguration of the linguistic ideology as a partition from the possibility that has a settled center or birthplace to a view that the focal signified. The original or supernatural signified never has an exact presence outside the framework of differences (Howarth, 2013). Several poststructuralists investigate and gain further insights through the deconstruction approaches according to Saussure’s contribution of sign theory of language. Also, to the deconstruction in the state of beings and the origination of signified and signifier through the alternative approach of “incomplete structure of signification that highlighted by an irreducible play of meaning” (Howarth, 2013). Above all this, Saussure’s work has been primarily utilized by Derrida within his deconstructive approach. Derrida’s idea of ‘differance’ mainly derived from the deconstruction and reconstruction of Saussure’s understandings. He contests that the contemporary tradition actually based their philosophy on the presence fact. From his perspective, it has something to do with both time and space that differentiate the presence from other. At the same time, the development of all language through time and space must be taken into account in order to enable a proper function of the ‘difference’ (Howarth, 2013).As also explained by Jonathan Joseph (2006), Derrida and Foucault, later react against the rigidities of structuralism and the determinism or reductionism of Marxism. Inside Derrida’s distribution, his concept of deconstruction concentrates on the generation of importance through the text. It contends that the predominant Western type of information have looked to impost significance or personality by attempting to balance out importance around a settled point to the detriment of various or elective implications. This procedure, by which, is depicted as logocentric point of view. Certain implications have been raised over others by methods for forcing a specific rambling structure and barring those characters that fall outside it. Be that as it may, if logocentrism is the inconvenience of a settled personality or nearness, it can be undermined by indicating how this surmise an arrangement of energy relations and how those relations may be other than they are (Joseph, 2006, pp. 128-130). Deconstruction can along these lines be viewed as a political undertaking seeing that it urges us to challenge logocentric talk by investigating the play of radical otherness or ‘differance’ approach. For this situation, differance suggests both varying and conceding or raising the issues of both setting of importance and how it might change after some time. Derrida proceeds with his investigate of settled identity and presence in his publication, which endeavors to undermine the certainty of appearance and identity. Notwithstanding, while at the same time dismissing the real type of Marxism, Derrida grasps its spirits. To aggregate further, deconstruction tends to confine itself to epistemological inquiries worried about the working of dialect or the content, and the status of importance inside it (Joseph, 2006, pp. 128-130).
Although all beings do not possess self-identity, that also creates a situation where all identity possible. As a result, it can provide a trace of other beings that they are differ from or even to things that are linked to their emergence. While their theory creates an alternative approach for social and political science, poststructuralist philosophy gains numerous attentions and criticism from other perspectives who doubt the perception of the poststructuralist metaphysics explanation of entities, concepts, or even their logical explanation of the creation of beings. Most critiques revolve around the hardship in interpreting and developing the abstraction of the theory and reasoning and turning it to an empirical social and political analysis. Another question raised on its philosophical presuppositions, which looks at the accusation, that is not proven, of language and the definition in social sciences as same as the reduction of importance in reality and material conditions. Also, several set of argument associated with a broad topic of poststructuralist approach and the strategies to counter against the issues of social structure and institutions (Howarth, 2013). According to David Howarth (2013), poststructuralism contains a certain link of structuralism and the discourses that deal with basic understanding of continuity and discontinuity. From his publication, poststructuralism thus serves as a weak analysis that exposes alternative fundamental changes of the traditional views within structuralism by pointing out the weak points and its limitations. Within the debate, there are some issues that possess in poststructuralism. First is the problem in defining and coming up with an accurate definition and its conceptual scope. Secondly, although the terminology identifies a clear cut between poststructuralism and its former descendent approach, several poststructuralists shows little distinction between their historical divisions that separate both structuralism and poststructuralism from each other. Another problem is that, poststructuralism illustrates standing points in many human and social science areas while showing its unclear origination. Thus, shows an unclear scope and relationship of the theory and any other field (Howarth, 2013). Additionally, in spite of the fact that there Is no watertight accord on the character and import of poststructuralism. As Howarth agrees that most poststructuralist scholars do agree on some fundamental hypothetical systems and strategy. For a certain thing, they challenge those viewpoints that reify social relations and marvels by regarding them as common, or by methodically overlooking their political origins or social essentialness. They, accordingly, concur that the ideas, discourse, organizations and social hierarchies are not unceasing and settled substances, but rather historical and social construction (Howarth, 2013). From Howarth’s publication, he explains that “They are not grounded in nature or rooted in the way things really are; nor do they simply mirror or track a stable, underlying social reality. On the contrary, they are contaminated by multiple impurities and differences that problematize stable essences of pure form.” (Howarth, 2013). Moreover, he further clarifies using the word ‘Man’ and the interpretation of the terminology, which derives from cultural and discursive constructed that both individual and social group be able to understand. As a result, this allows poststructuralist theorists to seek further explanation on the value and ideology of human as well as the linkage to such other values and particular groups. The main strength of poststructuralist is the absence in core theoretical explanation and epistemological grounds to put one particular explanation on top of another, and be able to look for an explanation from various perspectives.
In Howarth’s publication, he mainly points out some arguments posted by the opposition against poststructuralist approach. Firstly, the poststructuralism deal with something that left undone and the illustration of its incompletion. In poststructuralist analysis, several areas and field of social relations have been left out during the deconstructive and reconstructive analysis. As their concepts posit in several areas such as economy, state, nature, and so on, they illustrate the problem of the relationship and the dependent status on compositions that are being left out. Moreover, their exploration, in the eyes of some scholars, those social and natural setting have not been explored by poststructuralist in an adequate approach. For instance, while they seek for an insight of the essentialist role of economic development and its connections to other social, political, and cultural settings, they neglected to consider the economy and its relationship to state and the prominent role of capitalism from other aspect. Furthermore, from Howarth’s publication, while numerous poststructuralist theorists admit that an understanding on natural events are in some unorderly constructive manners. Therefore, the definition and how things being added up relies on the shift in cultural frameworks and small amount dedication on the analysis and identification of several natural events through a perspective of how it affects social beings and their developments. As a result, their analysis shows an incomplete analysis, exploration, and explanation of beings (Howarth, 2013). Secondly, there is another proponent debate from Habermas’s perspective on their unsuccessful in giving out a rational justification for their critique against the oppressive and unrightfully of the structure of authority. Additionally, Habermas argues that poststructuralist theorists do not offer alternative explanations that may enable an ability to build up better disciplines within the society. Another argument is that, poststructuralist theorist mostly recognized as an anti-essentialism social origination as well as their deconstructive explanation of identity and agency. Instead of an unchanged definition of beings, they are more concern with the multiplicity of being and a politics of becoming. Some theorists such as Tod May and Saul Newman represent their concern on social reality and at the same time exclude an idea of a universal political programme. As a result, poststructuralist, in the eyes of some radical critics, are perceived as dependency, surplus, and fragmented approach (Howarth, 2013). Lastly, several scholars criticize poststructuralist on their methodology and the process of an analysis. On the one hand, they criticize on the portrayal of poststructuralist perspectives toward matters is something non-existed. On the other hand, some argue that their methodology and strategy need further development in order to explore further insights of the social world (Howarth, 2013). Another argument that has been raises by Jonathan Jospeh is that, Despite the fact that Derrida’s deconstructive perusing and investigation can be exceptionally helpful in addressing different attestation and suspicions, this approach, then again, are hazardous in the ontological ramifications of deconstruction in that to the degree that everything is intervened through the text. According to Joseph, inside Derrida’s clarification, individuals are not permitted to go past it and build up a philosophy or hypothesis of beings. Thus, this make it difficult to find any key human needs or interests since his hypothesis can’t be grounded in the more extensive social world. Then again, the main conceivable route is to just estimate on the guarantee of what may be to come and this leaves Derrida Unable to make any sort of persuading case for radical venture (Joseph, 2006, pp. 128-130).
Apart from poststructuralism, Saussure’s theory also shown in the work of post-Marxist theorist and how they rethink and analyze social and political affairs. Post-Marxism is an ideology in which derives from a traditional Marxism and aims to elaborate and to remodify an outdated conventional though through an alternative perspective. Regardless, the conventional Marxism offers a particular record of the part of thoughts, cognizance, and language in political science as well as society. Not exclusively does it relate ideas and portrayals to procedures of economic productivity, yet it additionally expresses a prominent hypothesis of ideology in which convictions are disclosed regarding the uneven conveyance of autonomy and assets in the class-division community. Thus, the Marxist explanation of ideology gives basic scenery to the development of Laclau and Mouffe’s origination of talk, which rise out of a deconstructive perusing of Marxist custom. Additionally, Poststructuralist Marxism, or post-Marxism, is a hypothetical perspective that expounds and updates crafted by Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault. Dissimilar to conventional Marxism, which stresses the need of class division and the basic humankind of the oppressed and the oppressors, post-Marxism uncovers the sexual, racial, class, and ethnic groups of present-day Western culture (Goldstein, 2005). David Howarth (2010) provides a basic background of traditional Marxism in his publication ‘Discourse’ that, Marxism is mainly highlights about the manner by which individuals associate with nature to deliver and recreate their material state of presence. It accentuates how social and political inquiries can be clarified by understanding the manners by which material creation is socially sorted out. To put it plainly, political inquiries in traditional Marxism concern the role of the state and philosophy or superstructures in keeping up class control, in which the state is seen primarily as an operator of pressure, and belief system as the teaching of false consciousness. Later on, this thought has been passed down to later Marxist theorists, for example, Gramsci and Althusser to clear up further and better clarification of ideology and discourse, which does not decrease it to more determinant social procedures, but rather holds a basic edge (Howarth, 2010, pp. 85-98). At the same time, the classical Marxism illustrate a distinctive explanation to two major ways. On the one hand, it heavily emphasizes on the aspect of the economic productivity and reproduction, on the other hand, on the less fundamental ideological and political processes. Basically, “while the former set of processes forms a legitimate object of research and can be explained objectively and scientifically, the latter are either reflections of underlying economic logics or contingent and accidental phenomena, which are not governed by the more essential logics that determine social and historical change” (Howarth, 2010). This binary thus encourages Laclau, Mouffe and Derrida to explore Marxism further through the deconstruction process and later illustrated in the discourse theory. As perceptible in Laclau and Mouffe post-Marxist theory and discourse theory, according to Jonathan Joseph, they challenge that Marxism concentrates excessively on material reality and that requires a discursive turn. Essentially, Post-Marxism rejects any refinement amongst discursive and non-discursive practices. As they said that “Each question is constituted as an object of discourse” (Joseph, 2006). Likewise, post-Marxism can be portrayed as an endeavor to mix parts of Marxism with other philosophical and social hypotheses, for example, deconstruction, postmodernism, and so forth. The fundamental subject of Laclau and Mouffe’s post-Marxism can be said to question of purported reductionism in Marxism and an emphasis on social possibility contrary to determinism. (Joseph, 2006).
Within their publication of ‘hegemony and socialist strategy towards a radical democratic politics,’ Laclau and Mouffe define a critical distinction of Marxist theory that goes around the economic essentialism. Instead of admitting that the formation of the economy and its oppositions are considered as the main elements for social changes and their identities, they argue that the ontological superiority of politics, culture, ideology, as well as discourse, are superstructure (Phelan & Dahlberg, 2014). Their perspective, according to Phelan and Dahlberg, illustrated as post-Marxist discourse theory, which this approach derived from a particular institution that is grounded in the traditional Marxists ideas and at the same time move away from others. From Laclau and Mouffe’s publication, they mostly highlight on the position of the discourse theory as a social ontology, that concerns on the overall abstract entities shift in critical theory (Phelan & Dahlberg, 2014). By extracting themselves from traditional Marxist thinking and former phenomenology, the discourse theory cherishes the ontology of an extreme possibility that concerns on the major function that both hegemonic and discursive performances play within the constitution, main changes, and disagreement in the whole social complex system. Furthermore, according to Phelan and Dahlberg, Laclau remains his position on the idea that the economy is not a unique system from other system but rather another discursive and hegemonic system like others that is built upon questioning a political economy outline as transcending historical bounds. For instance, a class struggles or the relationship of productivity and capitalism which as well shown in other political explanation. Furthermore, Stuart Sim (2000), also explains that post-Marxist theorist such as Laclau and Mouffe approach from a classical Marxism and later challenge several aspects of traditional approaches. Also, their works left a foundation for a later contribution of poststructuralism (Sim, 2000). One of the fundamental work proposed by post-Marxist theorist that gain influence from Saussure’s previous work is the discourse theory. As illustrated in Howart’s publication, he illustrates that the discourse theory that developed by Laclau and Mouffe assume that all beings has a meaningful and those particular meaning is conferred by specific systems of fundamental distinction (Howarth, 2010, pp. 2-5). As a result, it explores how that action build up and influence social fact through discourse analysis. To simply put, the concept of discourse theory developed from previous discourse analysis that perceived as the semiotic aspect of social practice and maintain it difference from other social structure (Howarth, 2010, pp. 8-15). Within the perspective of Laclau and Mouffe, they oppose that traditional idea that society can be differentiated to numerous kinds of practices through deductive reasoning and analysis. At the same time, they replace the traditional Marxist thinking with a new approach of discourse and support their claims that all manner is discursive and there is no immunity of one system to another (Howarth, 2010). Additionally, by deconstructing the traditional Marxism, Laclau and Mouffe rethink the social and political analysis on the basis of idea that all entities and actions possesses a meaningful status that bestow from different system. In short, that particular meaning of object relies on a specific system of difference or the discourse that emerge that being’s identity (Howarth, 2010, p. 100). For instance, David Howart provides an explanation within his publication that, the definition of the tree can be considered and interpreted in several dimensions. It can be perceived as a disposable provision for economic sustainability or development, while it can be defined as a portrayal of nature charm in the perspective of various environmentalist discourses. As a matter of fact, “each of these discursive structures is a social and political construction, which establishes a system of relations between different object and practices, while providing subject positions with which social agents can identify” (Howarth, 2010, pp. 101-102). Specifically, Laclau and Mouffe challenge the accentuation given to the economy and the method of productivity and to the significance of class. Marxism is condemned for attempting to get a handle on history through some fundamental improvement of method of productivity or class division and struggle. Therefore, this reductionism keeps Marxism from getting a handle on both the plural idea of society as an uncertain space with no settled pith, and drastically unexpected nature of social powers whose character is never settled, however open and deficient (Joseph, 2006).
From Laclau and Mouffe’s work, there are two distinctions that show a separation of their approach and the linguistic model. Firstly, the condition and structure of social relationship does not wholly derive from linguistic events, instead from an articulation of practices that emerges and organizes social relations and not just a set of ideas. Secondly, and the most fundamental distinction, is the challenge of the limit of the linguistic model that lowering all component to be within the moment of a system. Basically, all actions of social occur again and again within the existed system of meaning and conducts and coming up with a new center or nodal point that partly fix meaning and is a fundamental character of articulartory practice is impossible (Howarth, 2010, pp. 102-103). However, their discurse theory and approach raises criticism by some other scholars. From realist and positivist theorists, they point out on the ideal, textual, and relative explanation of this approach. For instance, their approach projects some imprecision of the concept in relation to the connection of a particular set of its ontology (Howarth, 2010, p. 111). From the beginning, the foundation of social ontology proposed by Laclau and Mouffe are still indefinite. Even though they illustrate a distinction between moment and elements of the discourse theory on its ontological ground, they do not provide clear instances of these categories. As noticeable from his previous work, the terminology was once used as an indication of some ideological conception. Later on, Laclau’s subsequent work, it was rather used as an explanation of social formation. Above all this, some scholars also argue against the fact that they overemphasize on total contingency, the quality of being, and the haphazard course of society rather than looking at a crucial outcome that limit extra-discursive material conditions (Howarth, 2010, pp. 118-120). In spite of the fact that post-Marxism and deconstruction build up a philosophical study of Marxist foundationalism, they are having a hard time to deliver an alternative social hypothesis. Jonathan Joseph (2006) brings up an issue that demonstrates the logical inconsistency of Laclau and Mouffe perspectives. He suggests that with regards to the subject of how and why are progressed mechanical social orders progressively unpredictable and unexpected, Laclau and Mouffe at that point guide back in the kind of periodization of history which conflict with their weight on contingency. consequently, Laclau and Mouffe, contend that the hegemonic measurement of governmental issues grows as the open character of the social increment (Joseph, 2006). They additionally highlight in their production that in a medieval worker society the territory open to differential explanations is negligible and that the hegemonic type of legislative issues just ends up noticeably overwhelming in present day times when the region of articulatory practice is widened. Joseph, in this manner, posts a few questions in his argument that if history can be periodical in that specific path as indicated by Laclau and Mouffe, how peopled get to innovation and after that again to cutting edge mechanical society. On the off chance that distinctive periods are portrayed by a multiplication of contrasts, then what is the central point that reason this expansion of contrasts. Also, if developing threat, possibility, and contrast has been causes by something unique then it assumes something external to the possibility of society; it is operationalized by an authentic rationale which must be legitimately come before discourse. As a result, this at that point undermines their contention (Joseph, 2006).
To conclude, Saussure’s groundbreaking sign theory of language play a significant role and have a significant influent in both later work of poststructuralist theorists and post-Marxist theorists. Especially among post-Marxsim as seen in Derrida’s contribution which also applies structuralist thinking and poststructuralism to rethinks and revises traditional Marxism thinking through the process of deconstruction. Additionally, this enables poststructuralist scholars to look for advance clarification on the esteem and belief system of human and also the linkage to such different esteems and specific gatherings. The principle quality of poststructuralist is the nonappearance in center hypothetical clarification and epistemological grounds to put one specific clarification over another, and have the capacity to search for a clarification from different points of view. On top of all, it also encourages those branches of thinkers to look further and rethink on the traditional point of view to seek further and better explanation of the social and political world. Furthermore, as mentioned in this essay, Saussure’s publication lead to the emergence of several school of thought who applied his theory into social and political analysis and proposes a new set of ideas from Saussure’s previous work. By deconstructing the conventional Marxism, Laclau and Mouffe reevaluate the social and political examination based on thought that all substances and activities has a significant status that present from various framework. Although there are some consistent argument and criticisms against both poststructuralism and post-Marxism point of view and their methodology to explore the social world and to find further explanation for the ontological explanations. There is no doubt that both school of thought also leave a major contribution and alternative approaches to how people look at the world and how to look at the development of the society and politics.
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Phelan, S. & Dahlberg, L., 2014. Critical Discourse Studies. Introduction Post-Marxist Discourse Theory and Critical Political Economy, 11(3), pp. 255-256.
Saussure, F. D., 1964. Course in General Linguisitcs. 2 ed. London: Peter Owen LTD..
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