chapter  2
18 Pages

‘Authority and Autonomy in Marriage’ and Craig R. Bermingham, ‘Translation with Introduction and Commentary’, Sociological Theory, 21, pp. 85—102

In “Authority and Autonomy in Marriage,”1 Marianne Weber investigated marriage and the relations between the sexes by first addressing the ideas that have determined the character of those relations through history. In so doing, she studied and evalu­ ated two competing normative systems: “authority” and “autonomy.” Weber exam­ ined the dominant normative system, “authority” (of the man over the woman), its origins, and its consequences for marriage and the spouses, and advocated its replace­ ment by the “form principle” of “autonomy.” The latter constitutes an ethical stand­ ard that arose out of the ideas of Puritanism and the Enlightenment, was thrust upon the modern woman through industrialization, and, if accepted over authority as a legally mandated standard governing marital relations, would lead to greater fulfill­ ment on the part of the woman-and the man-in marriage.