Levi Strauss is an anthropologist who believed very strongly that humans are the same everywhere which affected the way he approached the study of myths, forming his opinion into what is called a "structuralist" approach.
Because he saw basic underlying patterns in the myths of various cultures all over the world, he believed that a set of universal laws could govern the formation of and the explanation of myths anywhere.
According to Lévi-Strauss, "mythical thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution". In other words, myths consist of:
- elements that oppose or contradict each other and
- other elements that "mediate", or resolve, those oppositions.
For example, Lévi-Strauss thinks the trickster of many Native American mythologies acts as a "mediator". Lévi-Strauss's argument hinges on two facts about the Native American trickster:
- the trickster has a contradictory and unpredictable personality;
- the trickster is almost always a raven or a coyote.
Because of this universal "structure," his approach was called "structuralist."