SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: “Ownership in a Patriarchal Society” / Erich Fromm

Erich FrommErich Seligmann Fromm
(March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980)
German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist

“Perhaps the greatest enjoyment is not so much in owning material things but in owning living beings. In a patriarchal society even the most miserable of men in the poorest of classes can be an owner of property—in his relationship to his wife, his children, his animals, over whom he can feel he is absolute master. At least for the man in a patriarchal society, having many children is the only way to own persons without needing to work to attain ownership, and without capital investment. Considering that the whole burden of childbearing is the woman’s, it can hardly be denied that the production of children in a patriarchal society is a matter of crude exploitation of women. In turn, however, the mothers have their own form of ownership, that of children when they are small. The circle is endless and vicious: the husband exploits the wife, she exploits the small children, and the adolescent males soon join the elder men in exploiting the women, and so on” (Fromm 70).

Fromm, Erich. To Have Or To Be?. New York: Harper & Row, 1976 Print.

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