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Gender and Generation in Thinking with Patriarchy

Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change

ISBN: 978-1-80071-033-7, eISBN: 978-1-80071-032-0

Publication date: 15 March 2021


The concept of patriarchy, one of the key thinking tools of the 1970s women’s movements, has been used and critiqued in many current and historical projects. This chapter enters the debate in an unorthodox way. Rather than define, defend, or critique the concept of patriarchy, it focuses on its capacity to articulate historically specific forms of relations between gender and generation.

The body of the chapter notes the continuities and differences in the way mastery and social infancy were connected in several episodes of thinking with patriarchy in Western social and political thought. Attempts to bring Roman law into a coherent system in early sixth-century ce, debates between defenders of absolutist rule and proponents of democracy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, nineteenth-century reconstructions of human pre-history and resurgent twentieth-century women’s movements have all left traces in ways of thinking about gender and generational relations today.

In the last two decades, new forms of activism and scholarship drew on the conceptual toolkit surrounding patriarchy. The last section of the chapter highlights two of these areas: research on child rights governance and the total social organization of labor, and writings on patrimonialism. Key insights from this work, the chapter concludes, can be used to argue that a focus on historically specific forms of the interface between gender and generation constitutes a useful aspect of thinking with patriarchy.



Miller, P. (2021), "Gender and Generation in Thinking with Patriarchy", Demos, V. and Segal, M.T. (Ed.) Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 30), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 15-33.



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