Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


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
..... Click the link for more information.


  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 ?
12) In sum, though women today regard the term patriarchy as an outdated bogey, cadres of feminist critics entrenched in academe brandish it as the execrated name of the common enemy.
She uses it to retheorize patriarchy and to dislodge monolithic conceptions of it, deploying the figure of the uncle to reveal the fissures in the seeming seamlessness of patriarchy.
If patriarchy is regarded monolithically as a discourse (a system of formation), Foucault's discourses would then become statements in the formation of the master discourse of the patriarchy.
Adeptly navigating the heretofore unexplored boundaries between patriarchy, manhood, and masculinity, Shepard asserts that age, marital status--and by the mid-seventeenth century, honour and civility--commonly determined men's ability to attain manhood.
patriarchal, public discussion of how to combat patriarchy has come to a
What is Patriarchy and how does it affect my health and safety?
Closely working with indigenous community members revealed that though there was no patriarchy in the Cordilleras, what did exist were distinct roles and images assigned to men and women which they were expected to follow.
We are all familiar with the modes through which patriarchy defined and entrenched itself in the early part of the twentieth century in the Western world, most notably through invoking discourses of nature and Christian morality.
The slave, Spendius, on the other hand, a self-interested liar who is one of three representatives of the power of patriarchy in the novel (the other two being the god, Moloch and the human ruler, Hamilcar), is compared to Homais.
Patriarchy is both an ideological and social position.
Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchy of the Orthodox Church.
Yet while it is no longer acceptable to argue that female criminals are due special consideration because they're women, many feminists' insistence on seeing women as victims of patriarchy sometimes has the same effect.