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A technical concept derived from linguistics and semiotics, used in anthropological theories of meaning, to denote the stable, rule-governed aspect of communication (opposite of syntagmatic, that which flows and moves in time). The concept is often used more loosely about basic premises underlying communication (as grammar underlies language). "Paradigmatic shifts" should thus be understood as fundamental changes in the premises of communication. This is how the concept is used e.g. by Kuhn (1962), in his famous discussion of revolutionary change in the system of scientific knowledge production. The concept is common in structuralism, where it signifies the underlying, a-temporal structure (of myth, kinship).

Click here to see an introductory text on paradigmatic analysis in semiotics.