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see matriarchymatriarchy,
familial and political rule by women. Many contemporary anthropologists reject the claims of J. J. Bachofen and Lewis Morgan that early societies were matriarchal, although some contemporary feminist theory has suggested that a primitive matriarchy did indeed exist
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  1. a form of social organization in which a male (the patriarch) acts as head of the family/household, holding power over females and children (e.g. in Roman society).
  2. any system whereby men achieve and maintain social, cultural and economic dominance over females and younger males. The term may refer to a pattern of organization within the family and households, etc., or within a whole society.
Although historically sociologists have mainly used the term descriptively, more recent usage by feminist sociologists has emphasized mainly its negative features. Analysis in sociology has been concerned with the origins and the implications of patriarchy. Although biological differences between men and women (e.g. physical strength in warfare) have sometimes been seen as the basis of patriarchy, the cultural and social sources of patriarchy, and its variations in form and importance, are equally striking.

Within FEMINIST THEORY, use of the term patriarchy has lead to the politicization of discussion of GENDER relations, enabling gender relations to be understood as predicated on inequalities of power.



the most widespread form of primitive communal relations during the period of their breakdown. The patriarchy is characterized by the dominant role of men in the economy, society, and family.

The transition to patriarchy took place during a period of significant development in the productive forces and an increase in labor productivity in all aspects of the primitive communal economy: agriculture, cattle raising, hunting, and fishing. The development of production caused the growth of exchange and the rise of private property. Almost everywhere men replaced women in the sphere of basic production and confined them primarily to domestic labor. The patriarchy is also characterized by patrilinear inheritance. The kinship group loses its economic unity but retains other elements of kinship. In addition, the patriarchy is marked by the transition from pairing marriage to monogamy, the settling of the wife in the husband’s communal group (patrilocal marriage), and the formation of large patriarchal families. Patriarchal relations were further strengthened with the growth of property differentiation, the emergence of patriarchal slavery, and the rise of class divisions.

The question of the place of the patriarchy in the history of society has been discussed for many centuries. One widely held theory claimed that human society had always been patriarchal. The ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle supported this theory, which dominated medieval thought on the history of society. In the 19th century it was advocated by H. Maine. In the 1860’s and 1870’s J. Bachofen and later L. H. Morgan refuted the idea of the primordial character of the patriarchy. Key features of Morgan’s views were supported and developed by F. Engels, and they have been accepted by most Soviet scholars. But even in the 20th century a significant number of bourgeois ethnologists adhere to the theory of the primordial character of the patriarchy.


Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem’i, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Morgan, L. H. Drevnee obshchestvo. Leningrad, 1934. [Translated from English.]
Kosven, M. O. “Perekhod ot matriarkhata k patriarkhatu.” Tr. ln-ta etnografii, vol. 14. Moscow, 1951.
Problemy etnografii i antropologii v svete nauchnogo naslediia F. Engel’sa. Moscow, 1972.


References in periodicals archive ?
Hence, the author's finding that rural men's empowerment was a result of their inherent patriarchical standing rather than their socioeconomic status, as there were no observable changes in their decision-making behavior.
Chan (2001) found that Asian American male students preferred to be a part of the hegemonic masculinity rather than aligning themselves with other oppressed groups because of the patriarchical rewards set up in such a system.
Future mental health professionals need to be able to look at the mental health system as it relates to the patriarchical structure of our society, so as to learn to make critical decisions about human behavior, thus avoiding labeling human differences as psychopathologies (Lev, n.
There's no doubt that "social prejudices and patriarchical mores" left less opportunity for women to compose works as numerous or ambitious as those of men, but it is possible to recognize this fact without espousing the idea of a "'natural' deficiency" or being a "defender of the status quo.
In addition, there are various rival theories of the state, ranging from the pluralist state, through the capitalist state to the patriarchical state.
Likewise, James Calderwood, "A Midsummer Night's Dream: Anamorphism and Theseus' Dream," Shakespeare Quarterly 42 (1991): 409-30, interpreting the doubling in the forest of Theseus and Titania as the subconscious means by which Theseus relaxes rigid patriarchical controls, has written that fairyland itself "brings about the corrective realignments among the lovers that prepare for the multiple-marriage finale" (410).
Resource theory posits that the relative power which a spouse wields in the family decision-making process varies directly with the socio-economic resources contributed by that spouse, rather than being based on traditional patriarchical ideas.
Opoku, a specialist on the subject of the African Diaspora, makes astute comments on a wide range of topics like Yankee imperialism, black sexual myths, lesbianism, wiggers, female circumcision, patriarchical miscues, African tribalism and pride.
Contesting the homogeneous and heterosexist notions of women's oppression deployed during the early second wave of feminism -- notions which centralized the experiences of white, middle class, heterosexual women within a hierarchy of patriarchical power relations -- North American lesbians began to stake their own claims in an evolving women's movement through taking on central roles in the creation of emergent feminist theories, politics, and cultures.
Professor Gilligan identifies the main obstacles to educational opportunity for American girls as the "patriarchial social order," "androcentric and patriarchical norms," and "Western thinking" -- that is to say, the American "system" itself is at fault.
Religious Right leaders generally have a patriarchical view of marriage and family life, arguing that a woman's primary function is to attend to household needs and raise children under the direction of her husband.
And, in Africa, as in other patriarchical societies, group interests are framed in favor of men.