Importance of Patriarchy in the Nineteenth Century

Essay by katib_1980 December 2006

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The status of married women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century peasant societies is a field of study that is currently being nourished by a number of major theories, questions and hypotheses. In relation to them, our essay seeks to outline a model of the male/female relationship in the rural parts of the Saguenay region during the settlement period. The time frame extends from 1860--by which time some 20 parishes had been opened--until the beginning of the Great Depression. By then, most of the existing rural ecumene was occupied. Settlement nevertheless continued to expand on what could be called the margins: some 15 small parishes were still to be opened during the following decades, as the land clearing process did not end until the beginning of the 1950s (Girard and Perron 1-7). The profound changes that were set off between the Great Depression and World War II will therefore not be dealt with in this analysis.

They fall within quite a different set of issues that should focus primarily on industry, the city and the marketplace, as well as the complex interactions that the latter institutions or mechanisms maintained with the peasant family and the farming economy. Moreover, it appeared to us that there was enough to say about the status of women in this new collectivity, such as it existed during its period of territorial expansion.

The data used come from quite varied sources: the BALSAC population register, notarial deeds (a body of 300 wills and 1,800 marriage contracts), manuscripts of government and church censuses, local newspapers, and numerous local history monographs. These were supplemented by several bodies of oral data, gathered from elderly persons (men and women, in approximately equal proportions). (Addams 50-55) They consist first of 150 in-depth interviews conducted under our direction between 1979 and 1995 in...