Matriarchy is a society or family
in which women possess most of the power and authority. Matriarchy is the very opposite of
a patriarchal system where men take primary responsibility for the welfare of the
community. The male equivalent is Patriarchy.
While there is some dispute among
social scientists, there is no clear evidence of matriarchal societies existing in the
world in either the past or the present.
Individual families, however, have
frequently exhibited matriarchal structure with women clearly possessing dominant
authority and control.
The term 'matriarchy' must be
distinguished from matrilineal which refers to the
system of tracing descent through the blood lines of women and which exists in a number of
Anthropologists do not make a
distinction between merely matrilineal, and clearly matriarchal societies.
The women live permanently there,
because daughters and granddaughters never leave the clan-house of their mother, when they
This is called matrilocality.
Women have the power of disposition over the goods of the clan.
Matriarchies are based on a union of extended clan. The people live together in big clans,
which are formed according to the principle of matrilinearity. The clans name, and
all social positions and political titles are passed on through the mother`s line.
Some traditional matriarchal
societies have been presented by scholars and indigenous speakers from still existing
matriarchal societies at two World Congresses on Matriarchal Studies.
Patriarchy as Negation of
Matriarchy - Patriarchy finally negates matriarchy by trying to replace matriarchal
society by patriarchal order. To do so it has to totally abstract from matriarchal.
A Matriarchal Society in the age of Globalization - It is the character of the
ideal type to assemble generalised, abstract and ideal elements of a matriarchy, but no
such society exists in reality.
All Power to the Women: Nazi
Concepts of Matriarchy
Jost Hermand, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 19, No. 4, Reassessments of Fascism
(Oct., 1984), pp. 649-667
From Patriarchy to Matriarchy: Ma Joad's Role in The Grapes of Wrath
Warren Motley, American Literature, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Oct., 1982), pp. 397-412
The Myth of Matriarchy: Why Men Rule in Primitive Society
Bamberger, Joan. (1974). in Women, Culture, and Society, edited by Michelle Zimbalist
Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere, pp. 263-280. Stanford, California: Stanford University
Matrilocality, which is also known as Uxorilocal marriage, is a term used in social
anthropology. It describes a societal system in which the offspring of a mother
remain living in the mother's house, thereby forming large "clan-families",
typically consisting of three or four generations living under the same roof.
A traditional Nair matrifocal family of South India is called a Tarawad or Marumakkathayam
family. A traditional Nair Tarawad consists of a mother and her children living
together with their mother's surviving eldest brother or eldest surviving maternal
uncle who is called Karanavan. The Karnavan exercises full powers over the affairs of
the family. Till recently, the heirs to the property were the women in the family and
the men were only allowed to enjoy the benefits during their lifetime and if a
family property was to be partitioned all female members would receive one share and
all male members who were direct offspring of the family name would receive one
share. Thus a brother might receive only one share while his sister and her children
(and grandchildren by her daughters) would each receive a share.
The naming system of the Nair community had the prefix of their mother's 'family name' and
they adopted the maternal uncles surname.