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  • A form of social organization in which familial and political power and authority are possessed by women (especially the mother) and property and descent are traced through the female line. There are no known examples of strictly matriarchal human societies in the past or the present. Matriarchal societies are distinct from matrifocal societies, where women form the core of the household, and matrilineal societies, a relatively common system, where descent is traced through female bloodlines but power is held primarily by men. Matriarchies are distinguished from patriarchies, in which men are the source of community power.

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