This article needs attention from an expert in Sociology or Political science.October 2011)(
Patrimonialism is a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader. There is no distinction between the public and private domains: "The very essence of patrimonialism consists in the idea that "the whole government authority and the economic rights which correspond to it, tend to be treated as privately appropriated economic advantages"(Medard, 1996). These regimes are autocratic or oligarchic and exclude the lower, middle and upper classes from power. The leaders of these countries typically enjoy absolute personal power. Usually, the armies of these countries are loyal to the leader, not the nation.
Max Weber wrote of Patrimonialism as a form of traditional domination. Initially it was centered on family structures, particularly on the authority of fathers within families, in other words patriarchy. But patriarchy only describes the earlier, smaller form. For Weber, patrimonial monarchies and similar forms of government were projections of patriarchy (the rule of the father within the family) onto a broader set of social relationships.
There are two main forms of patrimonialism in Weber's analysis of traditional authority (domination). One form is characterised by a top-down structure where the emperor or sultan rules on the basis of his own legitimate authority through traditional bureaucratic officials (e.g. eunuchs). In principle the Roman Catholic Church is patrimonial in this traditional sense, with the Pope as the Patrimonial Ruler.
The other form of patrimonialism is still top down but it approaches the Ideal Type of Western European Feudalism, with a basis for legitimate authority outside of the central ruler's authority. In 12th century France or England, for example, it could have consisted of the knightly aristocracy. This feudal form of patrimonialism eventually evolved into Constitutional Monarchy. The U.S. Senate is a vestige of the House of Lords in England. The Lords were literally the peers of the realm. Weber's overarching argument was that with modernity, traditional bureaucratic patrimonial forms of government eventually gave way to modern capitalist bureaucratic rationalism as the main principle of both government and governance.
Nathan Quimpo defines patrimonialism as "a type of rule in which the ruler does not distinguish between personal and public patrimony and treats matters and resources of state as his personal affair."
Richard Pipes, a historian and Professor Emeritus of Russian history at Harvard University defines patrimonial as "a regime where the rights of sovereignty and those of ownership blend to the point of being indistinguishable, and political power is exercised in the same manner as economic power." 
Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, a Colombian philosopher and former professor at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora - Brazil, uses the concept of Patrimonialism as established by Max Weber and later expanded by Karl Wittfogel from Columbia University, to explain the political ethos in Latin America. As a renowned specialist in political philosophy, Velez has published numerous books on the subject and is constantly invited as guest speaker in academic forums. Some of his works are: Liberalismo y conservatismo en la América Latina (Bogotá, 1978); Estado, Cultura y Sociedad en la América Latina (Bogotá, 2000); Patrimonialismo e a Realidade Latino-Americana (Rio de Janeiro, 2006); A Análise do Patrimonialismo através da Literatura Latino-Americana (Rio de Janeiro, 2008).
Pipes argues that the Russian Empire between the twelfth and seventeenth century, and with certain modifications until 1917,was a patrimonial system.
Jean Bodin described seigneurial monarchies in the Six books of the Commonwealth 1576-86 where the monarch owns all the land. He claimed that Turkey and Muscovy were the only European examples. He believed they came about through conquest and were common in Africa and Asia.
Modern and Contemporary Hungarian academics support the postulate that in the Middle Ages the Kingdom of Hungary existed as a Patrimonial Kingdom (in Hungarian Language: Patrimoniális királyság) where the King was the supreme owner of the Kingdom's lands. Indonesia, before and during the Suharto administration, is often cited as being patrimonial in its political-economy.