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Walby Theorising Patriarchy Notes
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Sylvia Walby - Theorising Patriarchy (1989) Introduction
● Patriarchy and capitalism are analytically independent
● Patriarchy can be modelled in terms of several partially interdependent structures Definition
● Definitions of patriarchy differ
○ it has been used to describe relations in which men dominate both women and younger generations of men
■ this is a mistake because it implies a theory of gender inequality in which men's domination of other men is central in men's domination of women
● Patriarchy can preliminarily be defined as 'a system of social structures, and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women'
○ 'structures' allows for the fact that not all men are in dominate positions, and likewise not all women are dominated
● Patriarchy exists primarily as a set of social relations, then as a set of structures, then as a set of practices Dual Systems Analysis
● Patriarchy pre-dates and post-dates capitalism, and hence cannot be derived from it (likewise racism)
● Hence we need a dual or triple systems analysis, in terms of capitalism, patriarchy and racism
● Are the different parts seen as fused into one system of capitalist racist patriarchy, or as analytically distinct categories?
■ Hartmann's analysis, though ostensibly retaining distinctness, underestimates the tension between capitalism and patriarchy
● The conflicts of patriarchal and capitalist interests do not have an inevitable result, but are based on local factors in patriarchal and capitalist relations Ahistoricism, Universalism and Diversity
● Can patriarchy deal with different forms of gender inequality at different times and places?
○ e.g. experiences of black women are very different to those of white women - for black women the family is not a theatre of domination, but a relief from racist domination
○ 'We need a concept of patriarchy which is flexible enough to capture the variation in women's experience and inequality between women.'
● Is a concept of patriarchy essentialist in defining 'woman' etc? Does this view the place of women as static?
○ often feminist writing does take one factor as the critical base of patriarchy, creating a universalist and ahistoric theory
■ but even where feminist theory is like this, its empirical findings show variation in patriarchal relations
○ clearly there is a diversity of key structures and practices with causal primacy in gender relations
■ the family
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