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  A system of social structures and practices through which men dominate, oppress and exploit women. A distinction is made between classic or paternal patriarchy, a form of household organization in which the father dominates other members of an extended kin network (including younger men) and controls the economic production of the household, and fraternal patriarchy in which men dominate women within civil society; the latter provided the key focus for feminist theorizing and organizing through the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s the utility of the concept was in doubt; critics saw it as ahistorical and insensitive to cross-cultural variation. Efforts to theorize patriarchy in relation to capitalism seemed to collapse into functionalism, or leave the relations between the two systems unresolved. And if patriarchy operates autonomously from capitalist relations, as posited by dual systems theory, did this not leave the patriarchal relations of capitalism undertheorized? In geography efforts were made by Foord and Gregson (1986) to resolve these dilemmas through realism; Walby (1989) criticized their model for neglecting paid work, the state and male violence (see gender and geography and Women and Geography Study Group (1997) for reviews of critical reactions within geography), and herself posited a dual systems theory of patriarchy at three levels of abstraction: system, structure and practice. Patriarchy, according to Walby, is composed of six structures: the patriarchal mode of production, male violence, and patriarchal relations in paid work, the state, sexuality and cultural institutions. But in Acker\'s view (1989) the moment of theorizing patriarchy in this way had passed; the object of feminism had moved from patriarchy as a system to gender relations (and heteronormativity). Interest had also moved away from delineating the cause(s) of patriarchal relations to understanding the diversity of effects. As early as 1980 Barrett had suggested that patriarchy is better conceived as an adjective than as a noun. The term is still used as a noun, but typically in the plural: Grewal and Kaplan (1994, pp. 17-18) urge the need \'to address the concerns of women around the world in the historicized particularity of their relationships to multiple patriarchies as well as to international economic hegemonies\' but their concern is to compare \'multiple, overlapping, and discrete oppressions\' and not to construct \'a theory of hegemonic oppression under the unified sign of gender\' (that is, under the sign of patriarchy). (GP)

References Acker, J. 1989: The problem with patriarchy. Sociology 23: 235-40. Barrett, M. 1980: Women\'s oppression today: problems in Marxist feminist analysis. London: Verso. Foord, J. and Gregson, N. 1986: Patriarchy: towards a reconceptualisation. Antipode 18: 186-211. Grewal, I. and Kaplan, C., eds, 1994: Scattered hegemonies: postmodernity and transnational feminist practices. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Walby, S. 1989: Theorising patriarchy. Sociology 23: 213-34. Women and Geography Study Group 1997: Feminist geographies: explorations in diversity and difference. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.



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