"Anti-structure” is a word that is used by Victor Turner in relation to the liminal(1) phase of life. Particularly, it is the lack of any social structure or order at this liminal period of transition for an individual. It is an adaptation of Brian Sutton-Smith's terminology from his publication, "Children's Folk Games as Customs," that Turner uses in his own way. He refers to the lack of structure in a more positive light, as the, “proto-structure” of a new social order, being the, “precursor of innovative forms” (2). Anti-structure runs in harmony with the liminal state, because it is in that liminal state that anti-structure exists and is capable of driving the formation of new social innovations or revolutions.
I see a lot of truth in this concept. Because of our own social restrictions, be them self-imposed or otherwise, we create for ourselves the opportunity of a kind of cognitive dissonance. If we have made ourselves believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that our parents are always going to be loving, kind, and supportive, then what would happen in one's mind if those parents abandoned their child. We face situations in our society that leave our outermost boundaries of disdain or fear broken and mangled, and when that happens, we are forced into a liminal state, wherein we no longer have any taboos, any customs we subscribe to, any beliefs we adhere to, any truth we claim. At that point, where we have no ground to stand on, we exist within anti-structure. The structure referring to our psychological and emotional framework, and the "anti" emphasizing that there is nothing of substance there to speak of. In my study of psychology, I first think of the many psychological "disorders" that this anti-structure produces, from coping mechanisms to multiple personality disorders.
I think Turner's anti-structure is noteworthy for everyone, not just as an academic concept, but foremost as a kind of psychiatric defense. We all drift through phases of anti-structural existence in our lives, and when we do, that very anti-structure leaves us confused about the goings on of our own lives. Anti-structure is intensely difficult to identify by one presently existing in it, and so I think it is extremely helpful to hang on to this information, so that in a state of anti-structure, an individual may be more likely to recognize it by his/herself, and so make the step from anti-structure to proto-structure in his/her own mind.
(2) Turner, Victor. "From Liminal to Liminoid." Page 52.