Sociology Index


Patriarchy literally is ‘rule by the father’ but more generally it refers to a social situation where men are dominant over women in wealth, status and power. The female equivalent is Matriarchy.

Patriarchy is associated with a set of ideas, a ‘patriarchal ideology’ that acts to explain and justify this dominance and attributes it to inherent natural differences between men and women.

Sociologists tend to see patriarchy as a social product and not as an outcome of innate differences between the sexes and they focus attention on the way that gender roles in a society affect power differentials between men and women.

The Myth of Universal Patriarchy: A Critical Response to Cynthia Eller’s Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory - Joan Marler 
In The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, Cynthia Eller describes a dangerous, ennobling lie, which is Universal Patriarchy, that must be overturned in order for women to have a viable future.

The so-called matriarchal myth which she attempts to debunk is the idea that human societies have not always supported male domination in social structure and religious practice and that societies have existed in which women and the entire natural world were honored.

Negotiating Patriarchy - South Korean Evangelical Women and the Politics of Gender 
Kelly H. Chong, University of Kansas, Lawrence 
The article explores the meaning of religious submission in the Korean context, focusing on the motivations behind women’s consent to patriarchy, which are rooted in women’s contradictory desires regarding the family system and the ambivalent subjectivities that they evoke.

Abstract: Social change is rarely linear, balanced, or evolutionary. The transition from patriarchy to feminism is one of many such examples. Using a trade union organization as a case study, this paper employs a mult-media approach, combining text, sound, and graphics, to illustrate the uneven withering away of patriarchy, and the tentative and uncertain emergence of liberal and trade union feminism between 1954 and 1986. An interregnum is demonstrated during the 1960s and 1970s when patriarchy and feminism experienced a contradictory and unstable co-existence; this divided the 1950s when patriarchy dominated, from the 1980s, when liberal and trade union feminism made their tentative appearance. The withering away of patriarchy was more pronounced than the growth of one or more feminisms. Feminism did not replace patriarchy as much as it continued to co-exist with its latent , and sometimes, manifest forms.

This article argues that systematic comparative analyses of women's strategies and coping mechanisms lead to a more culturally and temporally grounded understanding of patriarchal systems than the unqualified, abstract notion of patriarchy encountered in contemporary feminist theory. Women strategize within a set of concrete constraints, which I identify as patriarchal bargains. Different forms of patriarchy present women with distinct "rules of the game" and call for different strategies to maximize security and optimize life options with varying potential for active or passive resistance in the face of oppression. Two systems of male dominance are contrasted: the sub-Saharan African pattern, in which the insecurities of polygyny are matched with areas of relative autonomy for women, and classic patriarchy, which is characteristic of South and East Asia as well as the Muslim Middle East.

Poverty, Welfare, and Patriarchy: How Macro-Level Changes in Social Policy Can Help Low-Income Women - Joy K. Rice 
A critical review of the current status of low-income women reveals how patriarchy, violence, and discrimination mitigates against their employment and contributes to their poverty. Myths that fuel prejudice against the poor have led to public policy and welfare legislation based on individualistic rather than structural assumptions about the causes of poverty. Research on the effects of welfare reform reinforces the conclusion that changes in social welfare and policy are necessary for income parity and improvement in the employment opportunities, access, and status of low-income women.

Peripheralising Patriarchy? Gender and Identity in Post-Soviet Art: A View from the West - Pat Simpson 
The overall intention of the paper, is to consider, from a western viewpoint, the problematic nature of gender issues within a nascent, east European postcolonial discourse, informed by lingering traces of Soviet constructs of the New Man and ‘equal by decree’ woman. The central theme is an alleged ‘collapse of patriarchy’, identified in two very different, conflicting arguments, deriving from different contexts, but both targeted on western audiences in the late 1990s. One of these arguments, put forward by Russian writers Olesya Turkina and Viktor Mazin in the exhibition catalogue After the Wall, Stockholm 1999, locates this collapse of patriarchy at the level of male psychological identity. Manuel Castells in The Information Age, claims a disintegration of patriarchal structures at socio-economic levels, an assertion which conflicts with evidence of an intensification of such patriarchy.

Beyond Patriarchy? Theorising Gender and Class - Heidi Gottfried 
This paper questions recent attempts by feminists to move theory beyond patriarchy, addressing the charge by Pollert that the concept of patriarchy impoverishes analysis of gender and class. In place of patriarchy, the author advocates an alternative feminist historical materialist analysis of hegemonic practices as the means for excavating gender and class from lived experience. This mode of historical materialist theorising rejects the concept of patriarchy as unnecessarily abstract and unable to advance knowledge about the construction of gender in practice.

The politicisation of gender and restrictive laws about women in Muslim countries have often been explained in terms of the ubiquity of Islam in politics and culture. This paper offers an alternative explanation, one focused on the dynamics of patriarchy and the contradictions of development and social change. Patriarchy is defined here as a kinship-ordered social structure with strictly defined sex roles in which women are subordinated to men. Patriarchy persists where there is limited industrialisation, urbanisation and proletarianisation, and may be legislated by the state.

Forces of Patriarchy - Adolescent Experiences of Sexuality and Conceptions of Relationships - ERICA VAN ROOSMALEN, Dalhousie University 
This article examines the ways in which forces of patriarchy, along with capitalism, in constructing women, continue to play a significant role in shaping adolescent experiences of sexuality and conceptions of relationships. Based on a qualitative textual analysis of 875 letters written to the advice column of Teen Magazine, this article begins by reporting on some of the concerns and issues of sexuality, gender identity, and relationships facing preteen and teenage women in the 1990s. It is argued in this article that during early adolescence the power and the contradictions of patriarchy and capitalism are most apparent and identifiable. It is in listening to and hearing the voices and experiences of young women that we can begin to understand how teenage women are shaped as sexual beings in a culture of patriarchy.

Gender and International Politics: The Intersections of Patriarchy and Militarisation 
Anuradha M. Chenoy, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 
The policies of globalisation and militarisation are lending a muscular discourse to international politics, which provide continuity to the principle of patriarchy and privilege, especially during times of threat and conflict. This kind of politics has a structural impact on society because it endorses traditional gender roles and places people in binary categories like 'with us' or 'against us', 'civilised' and 'uncivilised', 'warriors' or 'wimps'.