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Matriarchy

  • By: Heide Goettner-Abendroth
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Matriarchies are not just a reversal of patriarchy, with women ruling over men—as the usual misinterpretation would have it. Matriarchies are mother-centered societies based on maternal values: caretaking, nurturing, and motherliness, for mothers and those who are not mothers, and for women and men alike.

Matriarchal societies are consciously need-oriented, built upon maternal values and motherly work. In matriarchies, mothering is transformed into a cultural model.

Modern Matriarchal Studies

Matriarchy is the subject of modern matriarchal studies, which investigates and presents matriarchal societies found all over the world. These investigations focus not only on the past, but also pay attention to still-existing societies with matriarchal patterns in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific area. Contrary to common belief, none are a mere reversal of patriarchy. Rather, they ...

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