Societies of Married Woman


During the 19th century and into the 20th the general attitude towards women was that they should be obliging and submissive. Contesting notions that this pattern should be a historical universal this paper suggests that there have been associations of married women as collective standard setters. Serving as collective authority units such associations have supported and directed patterns of female authority within household circles. Exploring this view circumstantial evidence has been found in folklore and observation of Norwegian folk life. Continuing a discussion started by the Finn Uno Harva (1944) additional material has been provided from communities in contemporary Greece where annual celebrations take place among married women to celebrate fertility with the midwife as the centre of the festival. Finally, a guild model for married women’s societies is proposed, suggesting that their main product – vital for the well-being of the community as a whole – is the offspring, not at the moment of birth, but nurtured and shaped into the approved standard.

How to Cite

Berggreen, B., (1995) “Societies of Married Woman”, Ethnologia Europaea 25(2), 119-129. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Brit Berggreen (University of Bergen)



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