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A kyriarchy is a system in which several types of social hierarchy interact and combine to produce a general pattern characterised by relations of domination, exploitation, authority, and inequality. A key hierarchy in kyriarchy is that of men over women, patriarchy; and the term kyriarchy was originally coined by Elisabeth Shussler Fiorenza to describe an evolved, nuanced theory of patriarchy that recognised patriarchy's intersections with other social hierarchies. Some of the other hierarchies considered under kyriarchy are racism, homophobia, trans*phobia, classism, ableism, cissexism, and oligarchy. The interaction between the various hierarchies is called intersectionality. Ecofeminist Riane Eisler believes that the hierarchies in kyriarchy (she calls it domination-oriented society) mutually reinforce or even cause each other. From a Marxist perspective, we might suggest that capital, being a relation of social domination, is one of the hierarchies in kyriarchy.

`Kyriarchy' is formed from the the Greek words kyrios, lord or master; and archein, to rule or dominate.

The concept has implications for liberatory praxis:

Emancipatory movements, including the wo/men's liberation movement .... respect particular struggles while, at the same time, forging complex solidarities in global struggles against interlocking systems of domination. – Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Also, Chandra Talpade Mohanti has spoken of an `imagined community of Third World oppositional struggles', which would provide a basis for alliance among wo/men of all colours and move away from essentialist notions of Third World feminisms.[1]

See also

Riane Eisler


  1. Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza

Further reading

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, `A Critical Feminist Spirituality of Struggle',

`FAQ: Isn't "the patriarchy" just some conspiracy theory....', Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog [1]   A good short theory essay about patriarchy. It covers kyriarchy and intersectionality. The long `comments' section which ends the web page is of somewhat mixed quality.

Malise Rosebach, `What is patriarchy?' New Left Project