Feminist sociology owes a debt to Weber, but one which is rarely acknowledged. Weber brought into sociology the concept of patriarchy, or to be more precise, patriarchal authority. He differentiated three types of authority (charismatic, bureaucratic and patriarchal), as part of his attempt to theorise nineteenth-century European societies. Feminists after 1968, especially separatist radical feminists have not always located the Weberian roots of the term, but have found it a powerful label for male domination. The most sociologically sophisticated deployment of the term is Sylvia Walby’s (1997) six structures of patriarchy. Walby conceptualises ‘a system of patriarchy’ (ibid.: 5) as ‘a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate,
oppress and exploit women’. She separates six structures which are, in effect six spheres of social life, or six dimensions of the social world. These are: (1) household production; (2) paid work; (3) the state; (4) violence; (5) sexuality; and (6) cultural institutions. Walby finds male domination in all of these spheres or dimensions. Her model allows for a variety of gender regimes, because the six spheres or dimensions can be articulated in different ways. The six spheres articulate in different ways for women of different ages, social classes, sexualities, ethnicities, religions and regions of the country. This model of patriarchy also allows the sociologist to engage with spatial issues, and those of time (Adam, 1996). Walby is clearly arguing against an orthodox Marxist view when she states that ‘In the UK gender shapes class as much as class shapes gender’ (1997: 13). Walby does not explicitly locate here ideas of patriarchy vis-a-vis Weber: indeed, in Walby (1997) she does not cite or index him at all, but her nuanced development of the concept of patriarchy is, in fact, a sophisticated use of the Weberian tradition.