Morgan, Meclennan and Edward Jenks severely criticized the patriarchal theory. According to them, patriarchal families were non existent in the primitive ages. A patriarchal family came into existence only when the system of permanent marriage was established.
Permanent marriages were not found among the primitive people. There was a sort of sex anarchy among them. Father was generally unknown. Kinship was traced through the mother. Hence, the ancient social unit was not the patriarchal family, but the matriarchal one.
people in the primitive age were organized in tribes, hordes or bands. Edward Jenks illustrates this process from his studies of primitive tribes in Australia. The Australian tribes, he says, were organized in some sort of tribes known as totem group.
The totem groups were not organized on the basis of blood relationship but they were united by a common symbol like a tree or an animal. People belonging to a totem will not inter-marry within the totem. They would always marry the woman of another totem group.
Men of one totem group would marry all the women of their generation belonging to another totem group. Thus the system of marriage would include polygamy as also polyandry. Kinship and paternity in such cases cannot be determined. Maternity is a fact.
Edward Jenks points out that with the passage of time and beginning of pastoral stage in human civilization, matriarchal society evolved into patriarchal one. In pastoral age, men recognized the value of women’s labor in tending sheep and cattle and so gradually realized the value of permanently retaining women at home for the purpose and thus arose the institution of permanent marriage.
With the institution of permanent marriages, the permanent families were founded. It was in the pastoral age again that the tribes broke up into clans which broke up into gens and finally gens broke up into individual families. The prevalence of queen in Malabar and the power of princesses among the Marathas in the past may be cited as evidence in favor of the matriarchal theory.