Essay, 9 pages (2000 words)

Feudal and patrimonial essay

Feudalism and patrimonial are two key factors in the styles of governance in the country, but how much has both systems affected the modern society? The very core of the society rests on the history of the world. Countries model their policies on past experiences so as to improve the conditions for the people. Of course, there are countries that continue to hold on to the traditions of the past and find that they have not accepted modernization. Interestingly, there are others who have changed from the steadfast practices of feudalism and patrimonial systems of governance, but, still theyemploy autocratic measures when making decisions that affect the country. One cannot begin to think that the society remains divided because of wealth and rank as the modernization process allows equality among all men. While feudalism gave way to capitalism, patrimonial governance offered a more lenient way of governance as the leader is in control of the political and economic aspects of the country. Irrespective of the differences in the social, economic, or political arena, the most-significant dilemma in the examination of feudal and patrimonial systems rests in the degree to which one finds characteristics mounting or coexisting in modern times.
Patrimonialism refers to a form of control whereby governance flows unswervingly from the leader to the people. In this system, the leader is in control of the economic and political structure of the country. Bakker, J. I. defines patrimonialism as “a term used to designate a form of political organization,” where the main focus “in the model is the extent to which legitimate authority is based primarily on personal power exercised by the ruler, either directly or indirectly.” While the ruler acts alone, his actions are not tyrannical. In addition, the personal relationship that exists with the leader of the country plays an integral part in many ways. A leader of a patrimonial country or group enjoys unconditional individual command. The Roman Catholic Church represents one of the modern-day versions of the patrimonial style of governance whereby the Pope has the ultimate control over the people. Max Weber speaks of patrimonialism as a type of traditional control in a country. Patrimonial monarchies stem from analogous types of government which reflects systems of patriarchy on social relationships.
The term patrimonial come from a conventional source of authenticity, whereby a society acknowledges this type of government as lawful because of its customs and permanence. Jackie Mackie analyzes Crouch’s article and agrees that patrimonial brought systems of government “into far greater prominence,” than any other system of government. Nevertheless, the patrimonial characteristic of democracy changed since 1998 and “has been submerged beneath the new and very different phenomenon of ‘money politics’ as well as the far more pluralist character of the political system. ”. Still, some aspects of the mentality that comes with the traditional patterns of patrimonialism “persist and are unlikely to fade into obscurity for many years”.
Based on Weber’s analysis of traditional domination, there are two major types of patrimonial governance of traditional authority (domination). First of all, patrimonial is a “top-down structure” that sees the sovereign ruling on the principle of his personal and legal authority which result from conventional bureaucratic officials, for example, eunuchs. In essence, the Roman Catholic Church represents patrimonial governance in its conventional sense. In this case, the Pope is the Patrimonial Ruler and governs because of the legality of the principle. In contrast, patrimonial is similar to the Ideal Form of Western European Feudalism.
According to Weber, this structure stems from the legitimate authority set outside of the fundamental ruler’s influence. The twelfth century French or English structure of government represented a knightly aristocracy. Nonetheless, this type of feudal patrimonial ultimately developed into a Constitutional Monarchy system. Weber’s arguments suggests that with the changes in the structures of government over time, patrimonial government led to the emergence of a modern capitalist bureaucratic rationalism as a major premise for governance and government. One could argue that the United States Senate is a replica of the House of Lords that existed in England. The Lords were similar to the present day senators as they were the peers of the monarchy.
Feudalism, on the other hand, is just as important as patrimonial. Feudalism developed out of the Barbarian invasions on the towns in ancient times. Arguably, Feudalism characterized the middle Ages in Europe as it stemmed from the relationship between landlords. One can say that Michio is correct in pointing out that “Lehn feudalism, according to Weber, was a particular feudal system seen only in medieval Europe”. In addition, the specific form of feudalism is clear as Weber inserts the historical argument that the prevailing model gave way to the modern form of capitalist government in European societies. Michio further adds that Weber postulates that “although feudalism possessed the proclivity to obstruct the development of modern capitalism feudalism [when] compared with the patrimonial state provides an advantageous element for capitalist development,” and leads to the chance for citizens to obtain property by unsystematic opportunities which was not common in the patrimonial states.
In Weber’s opinion, patrimonial government represented a form of traditional control that leads to common misconceptions when political analysts attempt to apply this theory to present-day non-Western countries. Clearly, it is the “traditional” characteristic that adds the important element to Weber’s concept. Still, the foundations of patrimonial dominance arise from the leader’s control or authority in his household. One can argue that this personal authority is common to the distantly oriented bureaucratic dominance of permanence in the typical leader. The fact is both feudalism and patrimonial governance eventually find support in the citizen’s acquiescence with the norms of government. Nonetheless, based on the bureaucratic control, the norms appeal to one’s sense of theoretical legality and assumed technical training. In essence, the norms associated with patriarchal domination stems from a traditional belief in the sacredness of ideas that existed in the past.
According to Zabbludosky, patrimonial government is best explained in the history of Nueva Espana. In fact, the most important aspect of this system of government existed in the professional armies whereby natives could not enjoy positions of high command in the army. In addition, “the special type of education provided to the members of the clergy and bureaucracy and the struggle between the central power and local authorities,” stemmed from patrimonial government. On the other hand, Weber sees feudalism as “the theoretical assumption of modernization,” even though the composition is unswerving in its theoretical organization of “modernization” theory. While the two styles are different, it is clear that the “feudalism-modernization” relies largely on Weber’s sociology.
Arguably, the common thread that connects feudalism to patrimonial is the dominance of the element of modernity versus tradition. Weber believes that the idea of tradition that links both styles of government together is the idea that daily routines serve as an unchallengeable standard of conduct within the forms of government. Arguably, both systems stand at opposing sides of the same element, in that both represent contractual affiliations to a comparatively self-governing element. The question of which is more political warrants much debate. In order to analyze the strength of its political nature, one must do so under the premise that “political” reflects an understanding of the existence of autonomous actors in their interaction. By definition, patrimonial power involves an aspect of tradition, and therefore, it makes it a traditional type of government. In addition, there is the component of diplomacy, which means that it can be a part of the convention of the society whereby leader acts on his personal initiative. However, what distinguishes the patrimonial leader from the feudal ruler is that the former exercises unchecked leadership styles while the latter governs within the framework of the independent powers of the country.
The factor of discretion is an integral part of patrimonial government, but the extent to which this impact on the power instability and physical coercion rest in the pragmatic situations. In the patrimonial context, political power arises from extra-patrimonial areas, where an individual maintains a reasonably high level of freedom and self-government. Therefore, the aspect of agreement exists as a result of the political subjects and patrimonial control. This concept makes patrimonial similar to the feudal nature of political dominance. While it is difficult to appreciate how this political agreement is “patrimonial,” the reality is that the political dominance stems from non-patrimonial relationships. Nevertheless, it is easy to see the existence of such dominance as there is leeway for discretion through physical oppression in the territorially formed political systems. These systems bounds autonomy with the political subjects and make it a true patrimonial state.
Mark McKerrow writes that some critics point out “feudalism [is] the sole cause [of capitalism],” while there are others who believe that feudalism is only partially responsible for capitalism. In support of his comparative analysis, he cites Maurice Dobb explanation of the crisis of feudalism as one that arises from “a game of conspicuous consumption.” By way of explanation, Cobbs (as cited by McKerrow) argues that “lords continuously increased the level of exploitation of the serfs, [and] this encouraged the serfs to leave the land.” As a result, these lords no choice but to discard of feudal relations in order to increase their profit-oriented production, and in return, they leased or sold the lands to rich peasants. This act was important as it led to the impetus to embrace capitalism. As a consequence, there was new development in international trade and a move away from the feudal relations with the lords and the peasants. However, countries such as the Philippines suffered through patrimonialism. In the Philippines, patrimonial redistribution sustained the political power in the country, and “there was no effort for sustainable growth in the economy.” The government profited through the process of “rent-seeking” from the business endeavors instead of modernization, growing inputs, or improving “internal efficiencies and investments.” This structure of patrimonialism placed severe pressure on distribution and removed the motivation for growth. As a result, the country suffered immensely because of unwillingness to adjust the stages of modernization.
Many critics have looked towards the modernization of government around the world and the impact of patrimonial government and feudal practices have countries today. Howard Wiarda notes that the Latin American countries have not developed much by way of the expectations or speed at which other countries changed. Unlike many other countries that have improved their government, Wiardi writes “the modernization process has been but partial and uneven, providing for the preservation of many traditional values and institutions,” even as the country gravitated towards the important modernized systems. One may liken the process to the “mausoleum effect” whereby the practices in attitudes and organizations continue to thrive in Latin America even though other countries in the West discarded those practices. In fact, Wizardi clearly states that the “underlying essence is authoritarian and patrimonialist and the formal are often informally ignored.” The idea that people still live with the confinements of the archaic way of government is hard to fathom. Conversely, the changes in the world and the open lines of communication should guarantee all types of government to improve on their systems as people changed with the times.
In contrast to the Latin American countries, the United States represents Weber’s theory on authority types. The former president, George W. Bush used his charismatic authority to hide the fact that he has a limited amount of experience, but he was present the urgency to march on Iraq in 2003. Much of the American populace agreed with his desires because of his ability to appear as “one of the ordinary people.” Some critics may argue that the reasons for the invasion were weak, but Weber would argue that the traditional authority formed the foundation for the invasion. The fact that the former president held the highest rank of authority at the time and the history of successful invasions led to the country side-tracking the lawful and rational authority of the government. This kind of charisma in a leader clearly shows that the modernization of democracy in the country is different from the feudal and patrimonial styles of government and goes against the anarchist way of thinking.
In concluding, there are a number of ways in which patrimonial and feudal governance impacted on the current social, economic, or political aspect of the government. Many governments have embraced modernization and have deviated from the steadfast rules of the former structure of government. Nevertheless, there is the hypothetical beginnings of the idea of feudalism by “modernization” theorists reflect Max Weber’s theories that feudalism served as a degenerated form of patrimonial bureaucracy. Therefore, the central patrimonial bureaucracy stems from the supreme ruler who single-handedly holds the power. However, there is difficulty in sustaining its wholesome form and therefore feudalism leads to a personal, ranking system of patrimony that ends in the considerable independence.


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