Islam’s Patriarchal Effect: Spurious or Genuine?
45 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 19, 2009
Scholars widely agree on a profound link between Islam and patriarchal values. Yet, the nature of this link is contested. The cultural interpretation suggests that the link between Islam and patriarchal values reflects a genuine bias in the value system of Muslims. The structural interpretation holds that the link between Islam and patriarchal values is spurious because it is entirely due to patriarchal power structures, which dominate in Islamic societies for reasons other than Islam itself (one reason being oil rents). Evidence on these contradictory interpretations is inconclusive. Neither have advocates of the cultural position shown that Islam’s link with patriarchal values holds against such key structural factors as oil rents. Nor have proponents of the structural position demonstrated that Islam’s link with patriarchal values vanishes under control of these structural factors. Filling this gap, we use multi-level models to examine whether or not structural factors eliminate Islam’s link with patriarchal values, looking at both societal-level and individual-level manifestations of Islam. We find both manifestations of Islam to retain a robust link with patriarchal values against structural controls. Hence, Islam’s patriarchal bias reflects a genuine bias of its value system that is not reducible to other factors. The link between Islam and patriarchal values is of a cultural nature.
Keywords: Islam, patriarchy, culture
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