Patriarchy is the idea that males are dominant in power within a society or group, eg the workplace, society or the family. There are many different social groups who believe that within society this is present, and many who believe most importantly this occurs within the family.
From a Marxist viewpoint, the family is patriarchal, due to beliefs that the rise of the monogamous nuclear family represented a ‘’world historical defeat of the female sex’’,-(Engels) as he believed it brought the female sex under the power of male control. The monogamous family took away females opportunity for freedom and turned them into ‘’a mere instrument for the production of children,’’ as females have lost their freedom for sexual gratification, and control over their own path in life as there is now a social idea, put onto us by the Bourgeoisie (by institutions such as media) that a monogamous family is more functional, and the stereotypical nuclear family is the norm. However Marxists believe this idea has been fed to us in order for the verification of inheritance for private property, from father to child, so the nuclear family is imperative for this purpose, so women were purely there in order to make children, and were trapped inside a patriarchal family, unable to have freedom of choice in life such as working ect, and instead had to support the family.
However Functionalists would not agree that the family is patriarchal as it serves an important role in society, which society cannot perform, the two irreducible functions; Primary socialisation, and the stabilisation of adult personalities- (Parsons). Parsons believes the family performs an important role in society in maintaining it, but also the family is an important role for adults, in the stabilisation of adult personalities. This is the idea of the ‘warm bath theory’. This is the view that the family acts in a similar way to a warm bath, in relieving adults from stress from work ect and offers a place for adults to relax and spend time with those close to them. He does not see the family as unfair but positive in the light for maintaining society.
Feminists agree that the family, as well as society is patriarchal, as they believe that the family puts women into certain social roles, such as according to Delphy and Leonard, who believe that women contribute to men’s emotional and sexual wellbeing, are more likely to9 take care of sick family members, and generally contribute more to the family like then men. However they believe despite this they do not get as much financial benefits than men, and are not recognised in power as much as men. They believe that the family cannot be symmetrical and equal as women are expected to perform more roles than men, such as in a study Delphy and Leonard carried out where they found that when the husband had been made redundant and the wife was employed, there was still no evidence of role reversal, so the family must be patriarchal due to the lack of equality due to women in the family life.
Functionalists would disagree however as they believe that the family has certain roles, that the father and mother figure must fit into. Such as the man’s view of the instrumental bread winner, meaning the father must go out to work and earn money for the family, however the mother has to fit into their ideal role of the