1st Edition

The Roots of Patriarchy A Legal and Genealogical Approach

By Ilenia Ruggiu Copyright 2025
    208 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    By combining legal and genealogical methodologies, this book describes the origin, decline, resurgence, and metamorphosis of patriarchy in the West. The book provides the reader with a unified tool to understand what patriarchy is, its dynamic and its main features. The reader will find a guide to navigate the dozens of definitions and theories of patriarchy, and will better understand why, despite the proclamation of formal Constitutions of the equality of the sexes, the gender gap in the West is still high. Approaching patriarchy both as a concept and as a social fact, the book shows how patriarchy lay at the Jewish-Greek-Roman roots of Western civilization; how for millennia it was perceived as a benevolent function for social and political life; and how feminism reversed this benevolent narrative. By reconstructing how patriarchy has been theorized in several disciplines and historical times, the book reflects on what has been done and remains to be done to de-patriarchalize the West. It will be a valuable resource for academics, researchers and students in Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Constitutional Law, Cultural Studies, Religious Studies and Anthropology.

    Preface.  Introduction. Part I: From benevolence to oppression 1. The foundation of Western civilization  2. Patriarchy radicalizes  3. Intersections and Critiques Part II: Decline and Metamorphosis 4. Post-Patriarchy?  5. Comparing patriarchies  6. Ending patriarchy  Conclusion.  Appendix I: Definitions  Appendix II: Qualifiers  


    Ilenia Ruggiu is professor of constitutional law at the Department of law, University of Cagliari, Italy.

    "Constitutional law Professor Ilenia Ruggiu has written a stunning book. “The Roots of Patriarchy - A Legal and Genealogical Approach” describes the origin and metamorphosis of patriarchy in the West. Over a nine year period, the author has traveled worldwide to interview scholars, thereby covering the waterfront from Italy to Asia. State patriarchy has deep roots that are now being challenged in the contemporary world. 

    A must-read."

    Laura Nader, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

    “This book provides analytical and historical insight into a key concept in feminist thought and claims its importance for the law; it is a must-read for jurists that take seriously the "woman question.”"

    Yuki Asano, Professor of Philosophy of Law, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan