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Labor paternalism

Patron-client paternalism


The derivation of the term “paternalism” from a Latin-English kinship term suggests its root meaning: a type of behavior by a superior toward an inferior resembling that of a male parent to his child—in most cases, a son. The precise forms of this behavior vary from society to society because the culture of kinship varies, and also because the nature of the tasks performed in paternalistic relationships vary. There are two general functions of paternalism: (1) the transmission of goods and services across gaps between generations and status levels and (2) the provision of means of access to resources to persons ordinarily excluded from such means. While economic phenomena probably are more commonly associated with paternalism than are any others, almost any kind of social content can appear: political, intellectual, religious, or marital.

Within different types of paternalistic systems, the following three basic ideas and two modes of motivated action can be found. First, since a “child” is defenseless and lacks property, he requires assistance and support. Second, since a “child” is not fully aware of his role and therefore not fully responsible, he requires guidance. These first two ideas underlie the benevolent mode of paternalistic action, where the superior person’s actions are dominantly supportive of the inferior. The third idea holds that since a “child” is ignorant, he can be deceived, or treated in such a way as to serve the interests of the “adult,” without becoming aware of this. This third idea obviously leads toward exploitative paternalism.

The theoretical relevance of paternalism was first noted by Max Weber, who developed the concept of patrimonialism ([1906-1924] 1946, p. 297). Patrimonial relations were defined by Weber as consisting of those existing between a boss, employer, feudal lord, or other similar figure and his band of henchmen, who give loyalty and obedience in return for protection. Weber pointed to the great historical depth of this type of relationship. It is well to remember that paternalistic systems contribute clear-cut solutions to the problem of complementarity of roles within a hierarchical structure: status differences within a hierarchy can be organized by complementary services and functions so that the necessary tasks are performed smoothly and efficiently.

In the present article we shall be concerned, first, with economic paternalism in plantation and industrial contexts. Second, we shall examine certain patron-client relations in local communities. In many cases both economic paternalism and patron-client systems are modeled on roles and terminology of folk kinship systems. The selection of cases in these two contexts is by no means exhaustive, since paternalism can become a model for relationships in any hierarchical setting. However, the cases selected for description represent the majority of types.

Labor paternalism

The plantation

Plantation systems in both the New World and the Old World have received considerable attention from social scientists interested in paternalism. These observers agree that plantation paternalism was in large part a projection of social patterns found elsewhere in the national society. For example, Siegel (1955, p. 405) noted that everywhere in rural Brazil structural relationships similar to specific plantation forms are to be found: “There is the set of social and economic patterns which determine the relationship of the vaqueiro,the northeastern cowboy, to the ranch owner; the patterns linking the guarimpero to the merchant and diamond buyer, and the camarada system of the plateau region of southern Brazil” (a camarada is an agricultural worker who enters into paternalistic agreements with a farmer). The fact that plantation paternalism is a symptom of more widespread social patterns highlights the general problem of change which these systems present to the social scientist. Paternalism in any setting must be considered from at least two points of view: (1) the specific causes which call it forth in a particular setting and (2) the extent to which its presence is related to traditional forms in the society at large.

One cause of paternalism in plantation systems is the character of the labor force. Greaves (1959) and Stein (1955) see paternalism as the result of the existence of a poor and uneducated aboriginal labor force, which led plantation owners to supply many personal services in order to induce laborers to remain or, in the exploitative mode, in order to hold them as virtual slaves (see Alexander 1962, on northeast Brazil, where a slave-owning economy influenced the later plantation system). The case of Argentina is instructive in that paternalism in both the plantation system and industry has been much less marked than in other Latin American countries, because the labor force was drawn from better-educated European immigrants lacking traditions of dependence (Alexander 1962).

Also relevant to the discussion of causes is the economic format of the plantation: rural and relatively isolated, thus requiring that both managers and workers live at the site of work. In this situation daily relations between management and labor take intimate forms, and the possibility of contractual, functionally specific relations is less than in the case of an urban factory. This situation underlines a feature found in many paternalisms: the superior or boss is a kind of “gatekeeper”; access to rewards and necessities can be obtained only through him, and hence he can demand more than just adequate performance. The fact that the labor force is often derived from peasant or tribal communities plays a role insofar as these people are accustomed to authoritarian and dominancesubmission patterns based on kinship. However, Wolf (1959) saw the personalized relationships of the plantation as a “ritual pantomime of dependence”: not a genuine personalization, but forms used by the manager to soften the rigor of an inherently exploitative labor system.

In agricultural tenancy, paternalistic relations are generally less well developed than on the plantation. However, in parts of Japan (Beardsley et al. 1959) and in Lebanon (Sayigh 1958) the generally low educational level of the tenants, plus low levels of productivity, encouraged certain forms of paternalism.

Change in labor paternalism

While there is no detailed survey specifically aimed at studying change, the cumulative evidence suggests that paternalism on plantations has been in a process of decline, especially since World War n. Adams (1959) points out that in Guatemala the rise of labor unions since 1944, coupled with the national government’s labor security and land reform measures, had the effect of dissolving the old patronmozo relationship between plantation owner and worker. Specifically, a hostile relationship developed between workers and employer, promoting a willingness on the part of the former to look to labor unions and the government for the supports formerly furnished, at the price of low wages and semibondage, by the plantation owner. This case illustrates a phenomenon noted also in the case of Japan (Bennett & Ishino 1963, chapter 5): when external agencies began to supply unemployment relief and medical care to boss-organized dock workers, the workers deserted the boss systems and signed up with the public employment offices. In Hawaii the deeply rooted paternalism of the sugar and pineapple plantations has been giving way under the impact of unionization and the Americanization of Japanese and Filipino laborers (Norbeck 1959, p. 148). However, it should not be assumed from these cases that all paternalistic systems automatically vanish when other forms of labor security are introduced. In the cases noted, there was evidence that these particular organizations had strong exploitative tendencies and that workers rejected them because the price paid for security was no longer bearable. The process was also facilitated by changes in the national cultural climate toward more rational, universalistic values.

In other cases paternalistic plantation systems have survived or even have been created under modern conditions because the workers needed these kinds of relationships and because the price of protection was not excessive. Ford (1955), in a report on Peru, notes that sugar plantation owners and managers would willingly give up paternalistic practices, as demanded by labor leaders, but cannot, because the workers expect this kind of treatment. Somewhat similarly, in Indonesia the Dutch introduced a paternalistic system on the sugar plantations not only because the labor force consisted mainly of small farmers removed from the land and, hence, devoid of any important support other than wage work, but also because the workers expected this type of treatment, having received it from wealthy Muslim employers under the basic obligation of charity in their religion (Hawkins 1962; Geertz 1965). However, Hawkins (1962, p. 84) also notes that in spite of these expectations, workers on the plantations had “a strong feeling that work was something the Dutch imposed upon them.” Thus, one might reasonably expect that as labor organization and government intervention continue to develop in the formerly colonial countries, paternalistic relations in the plantations will give way to a more rationalized employer-employee relationship. The idea of individual freedom of contract, coupled with nationalistic feelings, may be sufficiently strong to dissolve the traditional sentiments. Moreover, there is no denying that labor paternalism, however benevolent, has an element of bondage; the worker simply is not free to move from job to job. Whether or not his personal welfare is better served under a freer, but less paternally secure, system is another issue.

At least three points of view have emerged on the question of change in labor paternalism (see Odaka 1964). The first, or “Marxist,” position sees paternalism as a traditional residue which will pass when the final vestiges of “feudal” society have been removed. The second views paternalism as a necessary, and often humane, system of relationships which organizes modern economic effort in ways acceptable to the local cultural traditions; hence, it need not disappear, since modern economic effort can be organized in ways other than those common in the Western countries (e.g., C. S. Belshaw 1955; I960; Abegglen 1958). The third sees paternalism as a response to particular socioeconomic conditions associated with scarce capital, needs for concentration of capital in a few hands, and general low levels of living (e.g., Bennett & Ishino 1963). Thus, in this third view, paternalism may appear or recur in any country during any historical period when these conditions are present.

Industrial paternalism

The factory usually differs from the plantation insofar as it is located in a town and does not require the isolated, in-service residence of both management and labor. This feature may be less important in cases where the town is particularly small and/or the factory is the sole source of wage labor. Moreover, the factory, except in a few cases where the organization is a lineal descendant of “preindustriar systems (as in the case of provincial Japanese industry), was usually established on the concept of the labor contract; hence, the feature of bondage or indenture, so prominent in the case of the plantation, was generally of lesser significance. Finally, labor organization was introduced earlier and was more influential in the factory system, in any given case, than on plantations, because it stems from an urban-industrial tradition.

However, as in the case of plantations, paternalistic relations in factory systems have appeared wherever the national social structure contains such patterns to an appreciable degree. In Iran, Vreeland (1957, p. 166) notes, “the employeremployee relationship . . . derives from the ancient patterns of work organization . . . the traditional authority pattern found in the Iranian family and government. The worker . . . still commonly looks to his employer as a son looks to his father, for direction, for protection, for control/’ In Brazil the cotton-textile factories built housing for their workers, established company stores, built churches on factory grounds, and financed the saints’ festivals (Stein 1955). In Japan the nineteenth-century spinning mills did similar things and even more—the plant owner became a foster father to the young girls indentured to him and even arranged marriages. In modern Japanese factories such extreme practices have withered, but a similar sense of responsibility often pervades the relationships between labor and management (Abegglen 1958). However, there is considerable evidence that the rise of vigorous labor unions in postwar Japan is contributing to a decline of this type of hierarchical mutualism.

Industrial paternalism was common in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it continues in many parts of Europe today. The Pullman Company case is perhaps the classic example of American paternalism: the company created a total Utopian world for its workers, including housing, but forbade unions and any sort of bargaining. In spite of the many fringe benefits, the Pullman workers mounted one of the most massive strikes in the history of the American labor movement. The Pullman and similar cases demonstrate the inherent incompatibility of paternalism with a national social system which stresses individualism and free contract. Again the evidence suggests that paternalistic systems will wither once these values become part of the national culture. Paternalism endures if its participants believe in it and if they are getting something out of it at a bearable price.

A case with transitional features is that of Puerto Rico (Gregory 1960). Here the modern framework of unions and rationalized industry coexists with traditional paternalistic practices. Interestingly, the most effectively unionized sectors are the older ones, while the many new factories often tend to have the most paternalistic systems. This is explained by the fact that the new industries draw their labor from a rural population that is familiar with Hispanic patronage practices. These immigrants, unaccustomed to wage labor and lost in the teeming cities, look to the employer for comfort and protection. The existence of a benevolent, paternalistic governor also encouraged these sentiments, and government paternalism in Puerto Rico has often been accused by intellectuals of fostering traditionalism and delaying individual responsibility. However, these are transitional aspects of a society undergoing rapid development; they perhaps bear out the point that a little paternalism may be a good thing in warding off the shock of rapid change—although it creates patterns of dependent behavior which must be changed in later stages of development.

In Brazil industrial paternalism was developed after World War n, as a measure designed to help the workers adapt to a new industrial economy and to prevent them from turning to the unions and the Communist party (Alexander 1962, p. 178). The industrial federations pooled their resources to establish two organizations which provided medical care, schools, libraries, low-cost grocery stores, insurance, and many other services for workers in various industries. In Argentina, as noted, paternalism was generally of less importance because of the relative sophistication of the labor force. However, after 1943 the expansion of industry brought large numbers of rural people and relatively uneducated urban proletarians into the factories; hence, the Per on government found an opportunity to develop paternalistic assistance. The consequence was the descamisados movement, the “shirtless ones” who formed the bastion of Peron’s mass support. Thus paternalism, on a national industrial scale, can have major political significance (as in the Pullman case).

In Turkey the state enterprises have provided considerable aid to workers in the areas of housing, medical care, food, and clothing. The 1936 labor code required private employers to provide similar, although not so elaborate, benefits. Critics claim that “a benevolent, though somewhat stifling paternalism dominates the personnel policies of the state enterprises’’ (Rosen 1962, p. 264). These state and legalized private paternalistic practices, based on folk paternalism rooted in the Turkish social structure, provide an example somewhat comparable to that of Puerto Rico. Folk paternalism has not become translated into institutionalized forms in so efficient a manner in all cases.

The general features of both plantation and industrial paternalism may be summarized. In both, the managerial element assumes responsibilities for workers over and beyond the basic contractual provisions for wages and routine working conditions. These responsibilities include various benefits, depending upon local customs: financial protections and guarantees concerning the payment of medical expenses for the worker and his family; basic services and supplies, such as clothing and food; the practice of carrying workers on the payroll in periods of business decline; housing; religious facilities; wage differentials, depending upon size of family or length of service; and many others. Motives for extending such services are various and can take a benevolent form as well as calculating and exploitative modes. However, workers in all cases are expected to remain with the employer and to exhibit loyalty in return for these “fatherly” manifestations. Political support for the owner-manager class, in the event this class enters politics, is anticipated and used.

Patron-client paternalism

We turn now to a brief discussion of paternalistic systems of a different sort: those which involve not an entire labor force or group but a relationship between two individuals, the “patron” and the “client” (sometimes more than one client). These patron-client systems are extremely widespread, since they usually do not require institutionalized recognition. They appear in such culturally disparate situations as among ranchers and cowboys in the North American West (writer’s own research, unpublished); in the Japanese lumbering and forestry industries (Bennett & Ishino 1963); in Greek villages (Campbell 1963); and between castes in India (Kolenda 1963). Many of these systems take on quasi-kinship attributes.

Kenny’s description of the Spanish village patron may serve as a general model of the Mediterranean and Latin patron-client systems: “I define patron as .. . someone who is regarded (and who regards himself) at once as a protector, a guide, a model to copy, and an intermediary to deal with someone else or something else more powerful than oneself, whether or not such power is imaginary or real in a single context or in all, and whether or not the advantages to be gained from his patronage are material or intangible” (1960, p. 15). In Mediterranean and Latin countries (both Old World and New World), the individual will seek out such patrons in order to receive certain benefits and protection; above all, the patron serves as an intermediary who can deal with the official and professional world. The specific methods of acquiring such benefactors differ from country to country, but their basic functions appear remarkably constant. It is important to note that these functions are entirely desirable from the point of view of the client; that is, on the whole, patronclient systems, as a variant of paternalism, lack exploitative or clear-cut dominance-submission features. In return for the favors granted, the client is of course expected to perform certain services, but generally these appear to be well within the limits of a permissible price.

These functions are underlined in the reports on Greek patron-client systems by Friedl (1962) and Campbell (1963), who both point out that these systems actually result in a more equitable distribution of facilities and privileges which otherwise would tend to be concentrated in educated and wealthy elites. The systems, moreover, serve a vital function in keeping the relatively anonymous and isolated village population in touch with the institutions of the national society.

This Mediterranean—Latin style of patron—client system is found in other parts of the world, notably certain parts of the Far East (see Dewey 1962, on Java). However, in these Oriental cases, including Japan, there is a much stronger element of feudalderived noblesse oblige; that is, the patron and client have rather clearly understood, and often ritualized, obligations vis-a-vis each other. The local prestige of either can be injured if these obligations are voided or ignored. In the Japanese case, Bennett and Ishino (1963) reported on patron-client systems in the Japanese forestry industry, where a timber dealer would become a patron to a group of lumbermen (nakama), who, in return for his guarantee of steady employment and support even in economically depressed periods, would agree to cut trees for him only and to work around his house and grounds. The dealer’s prestige in the community was dependent upon his continued observance of the agreement, and the lumbermen would suffer a loss of prestige and work if they left his employ without notification. Bennett and Ishino contrasted this type of patron-client system with another paternalistic arrangement in the same community, where a big lumber entrepreneur had organized elements of the industry from dealers and lumbermen to factories, running the whole enterprise in a domineering manner. In Japan the latter type of arrangement, verging on the exploitative mode of the employer-employee systems described earlier, is often referred to as anoyabun-kobun system (oya: parent; ko: child;bun: status).

A patron-client system of considerable antiquity and pervasiveness is found in India, where it may be called the jajman-kamin relationship. Thejajman is the patron figure, a person of a higher caste than the kamin, or client. The latter performs numerous services for the jajman, who pays thekamin in kind, with products of the agricultural economy, clothing, or other articles. Kamins may also perform informal services for their jajmans,such as communication to lower castes. In the very large number of analyses and critiques of analyses of this system, there are few which attempt to handle it as a variant of patron-client systems (see Kolenda 1963; Pocock 1962 for summaries of the literature). Some emphasize the economic distribution feature, while others emphasize role theory, power relations among castes, “feudal” relationships, and the like.

Reviewing the evidence, it appears that paternalistic systems have two main currents. One, stemming from purely instrumental institutions and goals with hierarchical structures, moves between exploitative and benevolent modes, with the former possibly somewhat more prominent. The other stems from the genuine needs of inferiors and superiors in hierarchical social systems for mutual support; in this category we have the patron-client systems described, and also a large variety of other types, including professor-graduate student, master-apprentice, and priest-neophyte. In all cases, persisting feudal or caste traditions can have a powerful influence on paternalistic arrangements.

The question of trends toward disappearance or persistence of paternalistic relations is difficult to answer. In some contexts economic modernization and social democratization definitely encourage their decline; in other cases rapid change creates conditions exposing a proletariat to insecurity, which can create new forms of paternalistic dependency. The survival or creation of a paternalistic system depends on needs and on the existing social organizational patterns and traditions. The memories of suitable forms of paternalism, and the requisite familial models, may survive indefinitely, even in societies with highly rationalized economic and political institutions, and thus be available for use if the need arises.

John W. Bennett

[See alsoKinship, article onPseudo-Kinship. Other relevant material may be found inPlantations; Japanese Society.]


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The practice of paternalism has a long history in American business, and it has been both maligned and extolled. Many companies have taken the opportunity to highlight their fatherly actions, claiming to be family businesses that take care of their employees through extra benefits and care that their workers would not be able to afford otherwise. Others have complained that paternalistic methods used by businesses form unhealthy environments, creating company towns that are fully dependent on companies to provide too many aspects of their living conditions. Paternalism, according to skeptics, fosters a top-down style of management that hinders creative thought among employees and encourages harmful promises or inconsistent behavior. However, a new style of paternalism has become more common in recent years as companies have begun exploring ways in which to develop employee innovation and social resources by helping their workers live healthier, fuller lives.

In the late 2000s, paternalism often involves offering employees benefit plan advice (instead of only a limited number of available plans) and compensation packages that provide a number of personalized extras. These include fitness gym memberships and other healthy living options. By supporting employees in these socially conscious ways, companies are able to maximize employee retention and maintain favorable, efficient workplaces.


Ronald Sims, in his 2003 book Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, identifies three different stages of development that occurred in the progression of paternalism, as companies explored the meaning of social responsibility and employee welfare in the twentieth century of United States business.

The first stage was profit maximizing management, during which business executives decided that their primary goal, for both society and success, was to encourage profit and growth. The American economy was seen as dependent on the wealth of companies, and anything done to encourage that wealth was seen by managers as acceptable. This was before the era of legislation concerning child labor and gender inequality, so some of the accepted methodswhile profitable for businesses were harmful to society. Sims writes that this era ended at the time of the Great Depression (1930s) when the success of business and business practices was called into question.

The second stage was trustee management . After the Great Depression, wealth was more spread out, and fewer privately-owned companies existed. Instead, companies were under the control of stockholders and subject to many outside groups such as suppliers, creditors, and of course customers. Government involvement also increased, leading to legislation that established fair labor principles and welfare systems; such legislation also encouraged the protection of employees. Corporate wealth started to be distributed for the purposes of social responsibility, and corporate authority moved away from one or two top executives to corporate boards and trustees. Employee benefits became common in this stage. Unfortunately, several paternistic problems also arose as employees became dependent on their companies, while companies struggled to not misuse their paternistic authority.

The third stage is the quality-of-life movement , where corporate social responsibility became a popular topic. Companies began inspecting ways that they could profit by their relationships with employees and employees' relationships throughout society. Social capital, the collective ideas and connections of the society, became important to businesses. Focus moved from purely economic goals to wider initiatives involving care of the environment, employee physical health, employee mental health, and employee emotional security. This is the current state of business paternalism, which is growing into a more complex style of management as organizations realize the marketing and image benefits that can be earned through social responsibility, along with the rewards of employee energy and innovation.


The negative effects of paternalism developed largely in the second stage, as companies began to assume that employees did not have enough knowledge or available information to make wise decisions. Therefore, management took the burden of these decisions away from employees, locking some organizations into dangerous, dependent relationships that could be exploited. However, as electronic communication became more common, the excuse of employee ignorance no longer applied, and companies were able to offer their workers a number of choices, providing them with the necessary education to make wise decisions concerning health plans and benefit options.

One of the most popular current ideas under the heading of New Paternalism is the idea of nudging, or giving employeesand otherssmall psychological nudges to make the right decisions, rather than forcing them to make certain choices in any direct way. These nudges are designed to help people realize the benefits to choosing health-conscious options without limiting their freedoms. Government nudges include sin and fat taxes to support beneficial lifestyles. A company interested in nudging their employees might offer gym memberships as a part of an attractive and flexible health benefit plan, encouraging workers to maintain physical well-being without requiring it.


Aronoff, Craig E., and John L. Ward. The High Cost of Paternalism. Nation's Business. May 1993.

Dowling, John Malcolm, and Yap Chin-Fang. Modern Developments in Behavioral Economics. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific, 2007.

Goldstein, Evan R. The New Paternalism. The Chronicle Review, 2008. Available from:

Sims, Ronald R. Ethics and Corporate Social Resposibility. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.

Winning, Ethan A. Pitfalls of Paternalism., 2008. Available from:

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Consideration of paternalism involves the interactions of two principles of medical ethicsbeneficence and respect for autonomy. Historically, beneficence has long retained primacy in medical ethics, and physicians have been able to rely almost exclusively on their own judgement about their patients' needs for treatment, information, and consultation. However, medicine has increasingly been confrontedespecially since around 1970with a different kind of need, namely the patient's asserted need to make an independent judgment.

The central problem in these discussions is whether the principle of respect for autonomy, which gives primary decision-making authority to patients, should have priority in medical practice over the principle of beneficence, which gives authority to providers to implement sound principles of health care. Resolving this issue requires coming to terms with the problem of paternalism. Medical paternalism poses significant moral questions because it holds that beneficence can legitimately take precedence over respect for autonomy. From this perspective, a professional is like a parent dealing with dependent, and often ignorant and fearful, patients.

For example, suppose an incurable cancer is found in a sixty-nine-year-old man. Based on a long relationship, the man's physician knows that the patient has a history of psychiatric illness and is emotionally fragile. When the patient blurts out, "Am I OK? I don't have cancer, do I?" the physician answers, "You're as good as you were ten years ago," knowing that the response is a paternalistic lie, but also believing it justified in protecting the health and well-being of the patient.

Some leading ethicists maintain that paternalistic interventions are seldom justified, because the right of the patient to act autonomously almost always outweighs obligations of beneficence toward the autonomous patient. In the practical world, it is important to seek a balance between the demands of both beneficence and respect for autonomy. It is useful to note that this balance may be seen differently in other cultures, where there may be a stronger tilt toward beneficence.

John H. Bryant

(see also: Autonomy; Beneficence; Equity and Resource Allocation; Ethics of Public Health )


Beauchamp, T. L., and Childress, J. R. (1989). Principles of Biomedical Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Veatch, R. M. (1989). Medical Ethics. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

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paternalism A loosely defined term which is often attached to social relationships within which the dominant partner adopts an attitude and set of practices that suggest provident fostering care for his or her subordinates. The concept carries implications of unwelcome meddling in the lives of the latter by the former. It also alludes to gross inequalities in access to, and exercise of, power.

A wide variety of social relationships have been described and analysed as characteristically paternalist, including those between husbands and wives, master and slave, employer and employee. The relationship between certain factory owners and their employees, for example during the early phase of industrialization in the West, has often been viewed in this way. The former group exerted almost unrestrained power over the latter. However, as a tactic for securing social control, the early mill-owners attempted to convert power relations into moral ones; or, in the terminology of Max Weber, to translate domination into traditional authority. This was to be achieved by the institutionalization of such practices as periodic gift-giving, charitable religious and educational activity, provision of company housing and insurance schemes, and support for company-affiliated voluntary associations and clubs. One of the most systematic studies of this form of paternalism, which examines employer domination and operative responses in the Northern textile mills of Victorian England, is Patrick Joyce's Work, Society and Politics (1980).

The suggestion is often put that paternalism, practised in this way, is a device for managing and legitimating overtly and potentially disruptive hierarchical and exploitative relationships: it serves the interests of men rather than those of women, the ruling class rather than the proletariat, or of White masters as opposed to Black slaves. However, it has proved difficult to demonstrate empirically that the ritualistic (usually deferential) responses of subordinates to the paternalistic strategies of their superiors indicate identification with or approval of the status quo, rather than merely an external and calculated management of impressions (or what has been called ‘the necessary pose of the powerless’).

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"paternalism." A Dictionary of Sociology. . 10 Dec. 2017 <>.

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pa·ter·nal·ism / pəˈtərnlˌizəm/ • n. the policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates' supposed best interest: the arrogance and paternalism that underlies cradle-to-grave employment contracts. DERIVATIVES: pa·ter·nal·ist n. & adj. pa·ter·nal·is·tic / -ˌtərnlˈistik/ adj. pa·ter·nal·is·ti·cal·ly / -ˌtərnlˈistik(ə)lē/ adv.

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