Familial state and the dynamics of household mastery

Political Power and Social Theory

ISBN: 978-0-76231-418-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-545-1

ISSN: 0198-8719

Publication date: 7 September 2008


The key argument of the book is that parcellization of power between great merchant families and the patrimonial corporations they ruled, first fuelled the Dutch Golden Age and then contributed to its demise. Even though farsighted contemporaries realized that a measure of centralization was essential, they were unable to loosen the patricians’ grasp of particular hereditary powers. Were the internal dynamics of elite families one factor in driving political fragmentation? Adams stresses that the “betrayal of the bourgeoisie,” routinely used as explanation of Dutch decline, can also be read as “loyalty of the patriarch,” and notes that the patriarchs acted in defence of the lineage continuity they themselves imagined and represented. In this area in particular, systematic attention should also be given to the urgings, imaginings and interests of other household and family members, and the cautionary tales of kin and friends who, in one way or another, missed out.


Miller, P. (2008), "Familial state and the dynamics of household mastery", Davis, D. and Proenza-Coles, C. (Ed.) Political Power and Social Theory (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 283-288. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0198-8719(08)19011-1

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