The ambiguities of patriarchy: the marital economy

Katie Barclay

in Love, Intimacy and Power

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084904
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702598 | DOI:
The ambiguities of patriarchy: the marital economy

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This chapter explores how patriarchy was constructed and negotiated within the context of the marital economy, setting out the operation of the marital economy in a Scottish context, and exploring it as a site of negotiation for power both in and beyond the household. It also discusses the place of wider family within these negotiations, asking how their interference shaped marital behaviour. From the perspective of Scottish law-makers, marriage from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century was primarily understood as an economic arrangement; an interpretation that reflected the priority of the marital economy in the everyday lives of the Scottish elites. Marriages were built around the marriage contract into the nineteenth century, and unions still failed at this stage, despite disavowal of mercenary motives and the exchange of romantic outpourings. The marital economy, which encompassed not only the management and consumption of the household but the methods of provisioning it, was a prominent concern in the correspondence of Scottish couples.

Keywords: ambiguities of patriarchy; marital economy; Scottish couples; Scottish elites; marriage

Chapter.  13475 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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