Full Text


Donald P. Levy

Subject Gender Studies
Sociology » Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Key-Topics feminism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Patriarchy is most commonly understood as a form of social organization in which cultural and institutional beliefs and patterns accept, support, and reproduce the domination of women and younger men by older or more powerful men. Literally the “rule of the fathers,” today sociologists view as patriarchal any system that contributes to the social, cultural, and economic superiority or hegemony of men. Consequently, sociologists study the manner in which societies have become and continue to be patriarchal by investigating both social institutions and commonly held cultural beliefs. At the same time, scholars investigate the consequences of patriarchy, i.e., differential access to scarce societal resources including power, authority, and opportunity by gender. Although some scholars simply use the word patriarchy to describe what they consider to be a natural or inevitable form of social organization, more recently scholars, stimulated by the work of early feminist writers (Beauvoir 1972; Bernard 1972 ), have come to recognize patriarchy as a prevalent system of inequality similar in some ways to racism or classism ( Hartsock 1983 ). Prior to the critical work of feminist scholars, many considered patriarchy to be the natural result of biological difference or rather a truly complementary system based upon differential inclinations that served to address society's need for a division ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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