Patriarchal reproduction : An analysis of male social power
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The theory of patriarchal reproduction is an attempt to discover the underlying causes of wimmin's oppression. It claims that the system of male privilege is not the product of biological differences between the sexes, or an effect of the capitalist system, but has a real and distinct material infrastructure. This has been found to exist in the material conditions and social process of humin reproduction. The work of reproducing the humin species takes place within a determinative set of social relations. In this society the dominant social relations are patriarchal, that is, males have social power and control over wimmin's lives. To discover the mechanisms of male domination, the work process of patriarchal reproduction must clearly be distinguished from the social process. The form that this takes is "mothering", while its essence is the subordination of the work of parenting to the power of the non-labourer, the male. An investigation of the concrete conditions of childbearing and childrearing provide valuable insights into the hidden structures of patriarchy. What wimmin's experiences clearly show is that only a method of analysis capable of separating the social relations of reproduction from all other social relations is able to explain why patriarchy assumes the forms it does. Although the forces which determine the events or moments in people's lives are diverse and complex, if we attempt to account for them all simultaneously we can explain little of the real world. The social process of reproduction has therefore been analysed in abstraction from other forces. Each moment in the social process has been viewed in isolation from the rest: conception, pregnancy, childbirth and childcare. The argument is made that male social power is first of all established on the basis of wimmin's activity in childbearing, even though the real effects of this domination are experienced elsewhere.