Patriarchy (sociology)

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In sociology , political science and various social theories, patriarchy (literally "paternal rule") describes a system of social relationships , authoritative values, norms and behavioral patterns that are shaped, controlled and represented by fathers and men . Synonymous are phallocracy and the less common new formation androcracy , literally "rule of the man".

Word origin

The expression "patriarchy" is the abstraction of patriarch , derived from ancient Greek patriarches "first among the fathers, tribal leader, leader of the fatherland"; formed from patér "father" and archēs "head", to archein "to be the first, to be leader, to rule". Since the 19th century, the adjective patriarchal has also meant “ patrilineal ” (compare patrilinear ).

In the oldest known Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint , patriarches is used to mean " patriarchs ". Accordingly, the term “patriarch” was used in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period as a synonym for the ancestors of the Israelites before the Flood and after it until the Exodus from Egypt . This explains the association of "patriarch" with an old man, because the ancestors of the Israelites are recorded in the Bible as being very old. A Jewish patriarchate existed from 30 BC. BC to AD 415 in Palestine. In the Catholic Church, the term " patriarch " was used as an honorary title for spiritual dignitaries.

Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches have named certain bishoprics, dioceses or ecclesiastical provinces as " patriarchates " since the Middle Ages , such as the Patriarchate of Venice and the Patriarchate of Moscow .

Derived from Greek and Roman law, the patriarchy in family sociology is understood to be a familial organization which, based on the pater familias as the "master of the house", ascribes the legal and economic power over the family members who are dependent on him.

Patriarchy as a form of political legitimation

Robert Filmer used in its drawn up in the 17th century political theory treatise Patriarcha the expression, patriarchy 'for a God-given authority that are inherited from fathers at will to the sons or can always be re-awarded by God. According to Filmer, this is the basis on which the legitimacy of all political rule rests ; Scripture is to be understood as the justification of divine right and absolutism .

The overcoming of the biblical concept of patriarchy is shown for the first time in the history of political ideas as the "emancipation of sons" at the end of the 17th century by John Locke , who rejected paternal violence as a justification for the state. In response to Filmer, Locke argued that the father's violence over the son should be understood as the parents' violence over the children. In his re-establishment of political violence, the brothers assume the political position of their father, whereby Locke ruled out the emancipation of women from men. The political scientist Carole Pateman calls this " gender contract " (sexual contract) between men, which is not only a pre-modern phenomenon in this form, but the modern "brotherly" patriarchy is founded.

Patriarchy as an evolutionary stage of development

With the development of anthropology in the 19th century and evolutionist theories that offered alternative explanations to the biblical story of creation and chronology, ideas of a unilinear, step-by-step development of humanity and its social organization emerged from 1860 onwards, which quickly spread. In search of the origin of civilization, Johann Jakob Bachofen (Das Mutterrecht) and Henry Sumner Maine ( Ancient Law ) postulated patriarchy as a civilizing achievement of men, which, according to Bachofen, had been preceded by an original matriarchy . Bachofen historicized the relationship between the sexes and questioned the nature of the patriarchal family order and the relationship between the sexes. He did not intend to criticize the patriarchal gender model, but rather to legitimize it (see also: History of Matriarchy Theories ). With the term patriarchy, the relationship between women and men was taken into account for the first time. And depending on how one assessed the assumed evolutionary development as a whole and the contemporary social conditions, the patriarchy or the matriarchy was judged as a higher or lower stage of development of the human social order.

For Bachofen, the assumed transition from mother right to father right was a breakthrough of the spiritual-masculine principle with which the highest goal of human development was achieved. Like Bachofen, Lewis Henry Morgan also adopted an original mother right. He was convinced that this form of society had advantages for women, while the transition to patrilinearity had negative consequences for the social position of women.

Theorists of socialism received Morgan and Bachofen's ideas of mother right positively. In contrast to Bachofen, Friedrich Engels judged the fictitious overthrow of maternal law as the “world-historical defeat of the female sex”. The question of whether patriarchy is a political or a family form of rule was decided in favor of the family. In this sense, patriarchy, as a feature of civil society, has since become an integral part of the Marxist worldview and science. Based on this, the advocates of Freudomarxism (or critical theory ) Fromm (1932), Reich (1933) and Horkheimer (1936) criticize the authoritarian child rearing within the patriarchal family to a socially authoritarian character as a postulated basic condition for fascist systems (see also studies about authority and family ). This concept of reproducing the authoritarian character from the (patriarchal) family as the “agency of society” was taken up by the 1968 movement and in modern childhood sociology (see concept of “orderliness”) and is understood as still valid.

Marxist activists of the new (second) women's movement cited Friedrich Engels in particular, while (early) academic feminism adopted Engels' theses.

Max Weber's concept of patriarchy

In Max Weber's (1864–1920) rule typology, patriarchy is a personal form of traditional rule based on violence and obedience . This conventional concept of patriarchy has been criticized as too narrow in the various debates on social theory, since it only applies to a specific historical epoch. Weber explained all domination relationships through socialization and societal relationships with the exception of the relationship between men and women, which he traced back to a natural gender difference.

“In the case of house authority, age-old natural situations are the source of a belief in authority based on piety. For all those subject to the house, the specifically close, personal, permanent coexistence in the house with its inner and outer community of fate. For the housewife woman the normal superiority of the physical and mental resilience of the man. "

- Max Weber

The feminist concept of patriarchy

In feminist theory formation since the 1960s, the aim was to question the natural growth of the relationship between men and women, as assumed by Weber, and thus the subordination of women. The second women's movement expanded the concept of patriarchy to include general, almost globally widespread male dominance and expanded it to become a synonym for 'male rule and oppression of women'. Patriarchy became a collective term for structures and forms of subordination, exploitation and direct and symbolic violence that affect women, and the basis of feminist theory and practice.

“Patriarchy literally means the rule of fathers. But today male dominance goes beyond the rule of the fathers and includes the rule of husbands, of male superiors, of senior men in most social institutions in politics and business [...] The concept of patriarchy was introduced by the new feminist movement as a Combat term rediscovered because the movement needed a term through which the totality of oppressive and exploitative relationships that affect women and their systematic character could be expressed. In addition, the term patriarchy indicates the historical and social dimension of female exploitation and oppression, and is therefore less suitable for biological interpretations than, for example, the concept of male dominance. "

- Maria Mies , 1988

Patriarchy therefore denotes both an analytical concept and a condition that needs to be combated and overcome. As a key term in feminist theory and social science research, the concept of patriarchy gained in importance in order to capture "inequalities and discrimination that affect women in different spheres of life as parts of an overarching phenomenon."


In her work Sexual Politics (1969; German: Sexus und Herrschaft ), Kate Millett sketched the outlines of a 'patriarchal theory' in which she postulated that the relationships between the sexes should be understood as the relationship of domination, since all power lies in the hands of privileged men from birth . In contrast, the Marxist sociologist Juliet Mitchell argued in her book The Woman's Estate (1971) that a theory that claims universal patriarchy across all spaces and times is more of a hindrance to women's concerns about claiming their political rights. A feminist view of history should give women their own history in which they resisted the patriarchy.

Ute Gerhard sees the strengths of the concept of patriarchy in its analytical and critical content. Feminist theory needs an independent term to describe the gender relationship as a power relationship. This assumption was particularly criticized by Judith Butler :

“The political assumption that feminism must have a universal foundation found in a cross-cultural identity is often accompanied by the idea that women's oppression has a unique form, that of universal or hegemonic The structure of patriarchy or male rule can be identified. "

- Judith Butler, 1991

With the help of the analytical concept of patriarchy, the British sociologist Sylvia Walby has undertaken to explain the disadvantage of women in all central areas of life in a systematic and comprehensive way and to prove it as an empirical reality in the past and present. In order to take away the universalistic and ahistorical tendencies of the term patriarchy, she categorized six structures which, from her point of view, are determined by the oppression and exploitation of women by men and by which women can be affected in different ways: employment system, reproductive work, sexuality, culture , Violence and the state regulation of gender relations. The theory has been criticized for its assumption of a predominantly passive role for women.

Since the mid-1980s, the theorem patriarchy has been debated in feminist discourse and in social and gender studies . It is criticized that the term is not suitable to adequately capture the historical and cross-cultural forms of subordination of women, because it is often used in an undifferentiated and ahistorical way.

The sociologist Eva Cyba argues that the concept of patriarchy has a fundamental flaw, since it draws attention too one-sidedly to the role of men and the structures they dominate and there are constellations that nobody intends, but “because of their inertia as self-evident Tradition can be reproduced. ” Max Weber already gave an explanation of how tradition is reproduced . This is indicated by Heike Kahlert out. According to this, the docility of those subjected to violence in patriarchal rule is based on “the belief in the inviolability of what has always been as such”. The fact of traditional rule "precedes everything else in the consciousness of the subjugated". From this perspective, women, Kahlert concludes, help maintain the gender hierarchy. And it should be asked, "What contributions women make to the reproduction of the existing gender relations [...] and under what conditions they withdraw or even openly refuse their consent to patriarchal rule." In this way Weber's action-theoretical perspective enables attention to the changeability of gender relations to steer. In order to analyze and explain the concrete historical and current causes and effects of the oppression and disadvantage of women, according to Cyba and Walby, further specifications must be added to the concept of patriarchy, for example the entanglement of patriarchal structures with the ( capitalist ) economy and the role of the state. According to Heike Kahlert, the debate about the concept of patriarchy points to the lack of a differentiated theory of gender rule in the past and present. The sociologist Gudrun-Axeli Knapp also advocates resuming the debate about the theorization of power and rule in gender relations instead of an undifferentiated concept of patriarchy.

See also


  • Pierre Bourdieu : The male rule . 5th edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-518-58435-4 , p. 212 (French: La domination masculine . Translated by Jürgen Bolder).
  • Eva Cyba : Patriarchy: Change and Topicality . In: Ruth Becker, Beate Kortendiek (Hrsg.): Handbook women and gender research. Theory, methods, empiricism . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-531-17170-8 , p. 17-22 .
  • Karin Hausen : Gender history as social history . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-525-37025-4 , p. 359-360 .
  • Maria Mies : Patriarchy and Capital: Women in the International Division of Labor . 5th edition. Rotpunkt, Zurich 1996, ISBN 978-3-85869-050-0 .
  • Sylvia Walby: Theorizing Patriarchy . Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford et al. a. 1990, ISBN 978-0-631-14769-5 (English).
  • Sylvia Walby: Structuring patriarchal Societies . In: Anthony Giddens, Philip W. Sutton (Eds.): Sociology. Introductory Readings . 3. Edition. Polity, Cambridge 2010, ISBN 978-0-7456-4884-2 , pp. 30-31 (English).
  • Max Weber : Economy and Society . Outline of Understanding Sociology, Section 3 Patriarchal and Patrimonial Rule . 5th, revised edition. Mohr / Siebeck, Tübingen 2002, ISBN 978-3-16-147749-2 ( limited preview in the Google book search - first edition: 1922, study edition).

Theories on the emergence of patriarchy:

  • Ernest Bornemann : The patriarchy. Origin and future of our social system . 8th edition. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 978-3-596-23416-5 (first edition: 1975).
  • Gerda Lerner : The emergence of patriarchy . dtv, Munich 1997, ISBN 978-3-423-04710-4 , p. 374 (English: The Creation of Patriarchy / Women & History . Translated by Walmot Möller-Falkenberg).

Reception in the film

  • Paolo Taviani , Vittorio Taviani: Padre Padrone - My father, my lord . Feature film, Italy 1977 (Original title: Padre Padrone; award-winning Tavianis film about the oppression of a son by his father, based on the autobiographical novel Padre Padrone by Gavino Ledda , 1975).
  • Annabella Misuglio: L'aggettivo donna. Documentary, Italy 1971 (Critique of the Patriarchate in Italy: analyzes the double exploitation of women workers, the isolation of housewives and the training of children locked up in schools and separated from other people).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl-Heinz Hillmann : Dictionary of Sociology (= Kröner's pocket edition. Volume 410). 5th, completely revised and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-520-41005-4 , p. ??.
  2. phallocracy. Duden , 2017, accessed on January 31, 2017 .
  3. Androcracy is a new formation from ancient Greek ἀνήρ anḗr , German 'man' , to genitive ἀνδρός andrós with the root word κράτος kratos 'rule'.
  4. For example: Birgit Sauer : The omnipresence of “androcracy”: feminist comments on “post-democracy”. In: Politics and Contemporary History. APuZ 1–2 / 2011, Federal Agency for Civic Education , December 28, 2012.
  5. Patriarchy. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Accessed July 31, 2020
  6. ^ Patriarch and Patriarchate . in: Catholic Encyclopedia .
  7. Gerda Lerner: The emergence of the patriarchate . Campus 1991, p. 295
  8. cf. Michael Mitterauer , Reinhard Sieder : From Patriarchate to Partnership , Becksche Reihe, CH Beck, Munich 5th edition 1991, ISBN 978-3-406-35575-2 .
  9. Beate Wagner-Hasel : The dictum of the philosophers: The exclusion of women from politics and the concern about women's rule. In: T. Späth, B. Wagner-Hasel (ed.), Women's worlds in antiquity, gender order and female life practice, Stuttgart a. a. 2000, 198–217, here: 201 with reference to R. Filmer, Patriarchia. The natural Power of Kings defended against the Unnatural Liberty of the People (1640/1680), reprint 1991.
  10. a b c d e Marion Löffler: Feminist State Theories: An Introduction. Campus Verlag, 2011, pp. 142f.
  11. Steffen Kailitz: Key Works of Political Science , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-14005-6 , p. 352f.
  12. Susanne Lenward: Myth, mother right and magic. On the history of concepts in religious studies . Reimer Verlag, Berlin 1993, p. 78.
  13. cf. also Peter Davis: Myth, matriarchy and modernity. Johann Jakob Bachofen in German Culture 1860–1945 . De Gruyter, Berlin New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-11-022708-6 , especially chapter 2, p. 49ff.
  14. ^ A b c Elke Hartmann : On the history of the matriarchy idea . Inaugural lecture, Humboldt University Berlin 2004. pdf
  15. Meret Fehlmann: The speech of matriarchy. To the history of use of an argument . Chronos Verlag, Zurich 2011, ISBN 978-3-0340-1067-2 , p. 81f.
  16. Friedrich Engels: The origin of the family, private property and the state (PDF), Stuttgart 1892, p. 61.
  17. cf. Ernst Bornemann : The patriarchy . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1991 (first edition 1975), ISBN 3-596-23416-6 .
  18. “Fromm's investigations into the authoritarian character and its conditions of reproduction in the bourgeois nuclear family as an 'agency of society' (1932a, GA I, p. 42) were z. Picked up again at the time of the student movement ; but they are still up to date today. ”(Helmut Johach: Erich Fromm and the Critical Theory of the Subject [PDF], p. 5).
  19. ^ Sara Delamont: Feminist Sociology . Sage Publications, London 2003, p. 105: “Feminist attention to Engels began in the late 1960s […]. This book [ The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State ] did address sex, gender and the reproduction of labor power. Quotes form origins were an obligatory part of the manifestos of all the Marxist women’s liberation groups, and in the early academic feminism […]. Because Engels recognized that the Victorian bourgeois family was not the acme of an evolutionary process, but merely a transitory form, his ideas were useful for feminists arguing for social change. "
  20. a b c d e f Eva Cyba: Patriarchy: Change and Actuality . In: Becker / Kortendiek: Handbook of women and gender research, VS Verlag, 2010. ISBN 978-3-531-92041-2 , p. 17 ff
  21. Sylvia Walby: Theorizing Patriarchy . John Wiley & Sons 1990. ISBN 978-3-8252-3061-6 .
  22. ^ Maria Mies: Patriarchy and Capital . Rotpunktverlag, 5th edition, Zurich 1996, ISBN 978-3-85869-050-0 (1st edition 1988)
  23. Claudia Opitz : After gender research is before gender research. Plea for the historical perspective in gender research, in: Rita Casale , Barbara Rendtorff (Ed.): What comes after gender research? The future of feminist theory formation , Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-748-6 , p. 15f.
  24. Ute Gerhard: Movement in the relationship between the sexes and classes and the patriarchalism of modernity. In: Wolfgang Zapf (Ed.): The modernization of modern societies . Negotiations of the 25th German Sociological Conference in Frankfurt am Main 1990, Frankfurt / New York 1991, ISBN 3-593-34574-9 . Pp. 418-432
  25. ^ Judith Butler: The unease of the sexes , Suhrkamp Frankfurt 1991. ISBN 978-3-518-11722-4 , p. 18
  26. ^ Structuring patriarchal Societies , in: Anthony Giddens, Philip W. Sutton (editor): Sociology. Introductory Readings. Polity Press, 3rd edition 2010, ISBN 978-0-7456-4884-2 , pp. 30f
  27. Marion Löffler: Feminist State Theories: An Introduction . Campus Verlag, 2011, ISBN 978-3-593-39530-2 , p. 147
  28. Barbara Holland-Cunz : Feminism: Political Critique of Patriarchal Dominance , in: Franz Neumann (Ed.): Handbook Political Theories and Ideologies, Volume 2, Opladen 2nd edition 2000, ISBN 978-3-8252-1854-6 , p 357-388.
  29. Karin Hausen : Patriarchy. The benefits and disadvantages of a concept for women politics and women history . In: Journal für Geschichte 5/1986. Pp. 12-21
  30. Gudrun-Axeli Knapp: In Contrast. Feminist theory in motion (gender and society), VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-18267-4 , pp. 117f.
  31. a b c d Heike Kahlert: The Disappearance of the Patriarchate. Modernization theoretical views of a controversial theorem . In: Political Utopias in the Gender and Modernization Context, Vol. 29/1 , 2000 , p. 50.
  32. ^ Max Weber: Economy and Society. Outline of understanding sociology. 5th, revised edition. Study edition, Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1980 (1st edition 1921–1922). ISBN 978-3-16-538521-2 . P. 580
  33. Gudrun-Axeli Knapp: In Contrast. Feminist theory in motion (gender and society), VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2012, ISBN 978-3-531-18267-4 , p. 269.