Is patriarchy relevant in understanding families?

  • Diana Gittins
Part of the Women in Society book series (WOSO)


Definitions and ideals of how men, women and children should behave are a central organising feature of all societies. The content of such rules, however, is highly variable between cultures and over time. It became apparent in the last chapter that in Western European society, despite extensive involvement in all spheres of work before and during the development of capitalism, women and children were not accorded the same status or economic rewards as men. In spite of a variety of changes since, inequalities based on sex and age remain. Why has this been the case, and how have they been justified?


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    See, for instance, the classic discussion of this in M. Weber (1967) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Allen & Unwin, London.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See K. Thomas (1978) Religion and the Decline of Magic, Penguin, Harmondsworth, and C. Lamer (1983) Enemies of God: Witch Hunt in Scotland, Blackwell, Oxford, for further discussion of witchcraft.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Coward (1983) p. 205. Although Freud’s ideas on women’s sexuality are also notoriously ambiguous, notably in relation to ‘Dora’ — see T. Moi, ‘Representation of Patriarchy: Sexuality and Epistemology in Freud’s Dora’, Feminist Review, Autumn 1981, for a useful synopsis and discussion of the debate. Mitchell (1975), in Psychoanalysis and Feminism, posits a feminist defence of Freud.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See T. Mason (1976) ‘Women in Nazi Germany’, History Workshop Journal for an excellent background to this.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Diana Gittins 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Gittins

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations