Steven Goldberg

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Spectra and binaries

Steven Goldberg is an American author and sociologist known for his conviction that patriarchy is a universal featureWikipedia among all current and past human societies, and biologically explained. His first and most famous work is his 1973 book The Inevitability of Patriarchy. He published a second book in 1993, Why Men Rule, where he shifts his core argument from universal anthropology to modern Western workforce.

Outline of views[edit]

Goldberg defines patriarchy as a society with three institutions:[1]

  1. Overwhelming male majorities in upper hierarchical positions.
  2. Roles which give high status occupied primarily by males and reflecting functions of male physiology.
  3. Cultural expectation, by both men and women, of male leadership, dominance and control, even if this is absent from law or formal customs.

Goldberg asserts that all these three institutions are observed in every society that exists and has ever existed on Earth, with no exceptions, regardless of any other feature. In his own words: "all societies — whether Christian or pagan, etc.; capitalist or communal, etc.; “stone age” or modern industrial, exhibit the institutions".[1] He also says that no attempt to find an exceptional society has succeeded. "For forty years I have challenged professional anthropologists and archaeologists to risk their reputations by specifying a society lacking any of these institutions. None has done so".[1]

Goldberg next proposes a hypothetical psychophysiological phenomenon, the male "dominance tendency", to explain the universality of these three institutions.[1] He explains that, on average, dominance behaviour is more easily elicited by men than by women. He examines the correlations between behaviour and testosterone and concludes that testosterone is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the development of the three institutions. This means that if a society was able to intervene biologically by removing testosterone, the institutions would not develop.

On his website, Goldberg comments that his views are not more than scientifically explanatory and must not be labeled sexist. "One could agree with all that I have written here and argue that the theory presented here indicates the crucial importance of an equal rights amendment limiting as much as possible a male advan­tage in attaining positions, an advantage that often has nothing to do with performance in those positions."[1]


Goldberg's work has been criticized several times, first when The Inevitability of Patriarchy was published in the 1970s, notably by Eleanor Leacock, Frank B. Livingstone and Joan Huber. Goldberg responded to this criticism.

On his website, Goldberg answers several frequently asked questions concerning his theory.

External links[edit]