• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9

What do you understand by the term 'patriarchy'? Is the concept still relevant to the study of gender and geography?

Extracts from this document...


Gender & Geography Coursework - GEO 3101 What do you understand by the term 'patriarchy'? Is the concept still relevant to the study of gender and geography? Western female thought in recent years has identified the relationship between patriarchy and gender as crucial to the understanding of women's subordinate position in society. Patriarchy and its role in gender relations is now an important and every increasing area of study in human geography and many authors have attempted to classify patriarchy and account for its place in determining the contemporary social relations and structures in society. This essay will define the term patriarchy and then discuss various aspects of society where the concept is still considered relevant to the study of gender and geography. Little (1994) highlights the fact that definitions of patriarchy as a theoretical tool tend to concentrate on its use rather than its composition. Perhaps this reflects the difficulties inherent in arriving at a conclusive definition of patriarchy. Patriarchy can be a confusing term because its meaning has changed over time and no one meaning dominates today (Rose, 1993). Various early definitions of patriarchy concentrated on patriarchy as a rigid social system i.e. The Women and Geography Study Group (1984) defined patriarchy as a " set of social relations between men which, although hierarchical, establishes an interdependence and solidarity between them, which allows them to dominate women". Walby (1990) simply defined patriarchy as ' a set of social structures and social practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women". ...read more.


Thus although public and private patriarchy operate differently they act to achieve the same end i.e. the overt oppression of women. The control of women's access to paid work is maintained primarily by patriarchal relations in the work place and by the state. Cockburn (1983) highlights the fact that women are not permitted to undergo apprenticeships and other forms of career training and also quota's are used to restrict the number of women from entering many traditionally 'male-dominated' professions e.g. medicine, where quotas are imposed on numbers of women who are allowed to attend medical school (Braybon, 1981). Other common forms of patriarchal oppression of women within the paid work sphere are; the firing of women before men in certain situations of redundancy (Mackay et al, 1971) and the restriction of the amount of certain kinds of paid work that a women can do (Humphries, 1981). Patriarchal relations and gender inequality within the labour market can be divided into horizontal segregation and vertical segregation. Horizontal segregation refers to the fact that there are still inequalities and gender differences within the labour market i.e. many jobs are still male dominated. Women also tend to be concentrated into fewer jobs than men who tend to have a broader range of employment opportunities (Hansard, 1990). By contrast, vertical segregation refers to the fact that within the labour market there is a gendering of positions in relation to seniority. Thus men tend to occupy more senior and more highly paid jobs and the 'glass ceiling' acts as a patriarchal barrier to women who want to further their careers. ...read more.


This is demonstrated by men working in the city and women confined to the family and domestic duties in the suburbs. Thus according to Garmanikow (1978) " male control of, and access to the city are the result of patriarchal social relations imbedded in marriage and the family". Also a wide range of social and spatial inequalities exists which disadvantage women more than men e.g. access to transport, jobs and services is more difficult for women than for men. Another problem within urban areas is women's curtailed use of urban space which Valentine (1989) sees as a spatial expression of patriarchy due to fear from male violence. Conclusion: Thus it is obvious that gender inequality in today's society can be better understood in relation to the theory of patriarchy. The notion of changing forms of patriarchy i.e. steady change from private to public patriarchy is indispensable to the understanding of historically varying forms of gender inequality (Walby, 1990). It is however, also important to understand that patriarchy does not exist in isolation because its interaction with capitalist and racist institutions affects the nature of subsequent gender relations. So patriarchy becomes one of a series of important interrelationships between various aspects of society which serves to highlight the perceived differences between men and women's roles in society (Hamnet, 1989). This essay has clearly shown that patriarchy, although constantly changing in nature and degree of importance, is still a significant and highly relevant concept in human geography and needs to be considered in any debate regarding notions of gender differences, gender relations and gender inequality. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Evaluate the Significance of Socilogy To Understand Social Work Practice.

    Another social problem that older people often experience is finding themselves not able to integrate into society because of social structures or their networks. In a town that is by the sea, older people retire to an area that they may have spent happier times whilst on holiday.

  2. "The 'social constructionism versus essentialism' debate cannot be avoided when we study gender and ...

    As Michael Schofield found in his study on the sexual habits of young people, girls have greater control over them by the family, whereas boys have more freedom; 'parents' expectations of appropriate behaviour in the adolescent girl exclude overt sexuality, whereas for the boy they permit it' (Oakley, A. 1985.

  1. Discuss the concept of 'Double Colonization'; how do postcolonial women writers contest both patriarchy ...

    No English term exists for such a specialized discourse, and so I have invented the 'gynocritics'(Showalter:242) Gynocentricism stepped towards noticing the difference in women's writing. What the gynocritics then are working towards is to be able to map out the exact cultural and social determinants, which form the heart of a creative woman's identity.

  2. Pakistani Women In a Changing Society.

    adultery and fornication, crimes against the state, cognisable offences for which the police can take action. Previously that was not the case, for then adultery was a matter of personal offence against the husband by the male party to adultery and extra-marital sex was not a penal offence at all.

  1. Consider how the portrayal of the female characters in "Hobson's Choice" relates to the ...

    Vickey: That would be most unfair to us. This also shows that they have misgivings about both Maggie and their father. They are full of distrust. Mrs. Hepworth is a high-class woman. She is the typical wealthy woman of the time. She does differ to the average high-class woman in the way that she feels the lower classes deserve a chance.

  2. The Glass Ceiling

    Male dominance has been prevalent since the earliest records of man, because of this; women in most societies have been at a disadvantage in most aspects in life. Since the industrial revolution the importance of the traditional` farm household activities of women, like agriculture and textiles, have long been taken over by factories.

  1. Is George Murdock's 'Nuclear Family' still, the norm in British society?

    However in the 2003 household more women are obtaining degrees, and working, than in 1968. Allowing women to have children outside of wedlock as they can now support themselves without the financial support of a husband. This can also be used to explain the reason for; people are getting married later (graph d).

  2. The essay will interpret inequalities in health among the sub-populations of socio-economic class position, ...

    Infant mortality has decreased greatly over the last century. For example 1841 mortality rates show that 68% of men and 71% of women will survive to the age of 15, this compares with mortality rates for 1994-1996, which show, that 99% of both men and women will survive up to the age of 15.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work