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From http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=paternalism&searchmode=none:

paternalism (n.) = ..."government **as** by a father over his children,..."

What part of speech is as here, and then which of the many definitions of as befits? Please explain the steps or thought processes, for want of determining this myself for the future? I've researched them but am still confused as to which one is accurate and am vacillating between:

Adverb 1. Used in comparisons to refer to the extent or degree of something:

Conjunction 1. Used to indicate that something happens during the time when something else is taking place: 2. Used to indicate by comparison the way that something happens or is done:

Preposition 1. Used to refer to the function or character that someone or something has 2. During the time of being (the thing specified):

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    It's Adverb / Conjunction / Preposition, depending on your grammatical sect, used in the same sense as like when the object of comparison is a clause. See Collins, 8. – StoneyB Aug 20 '14 at 14:10
  • @StoneyB Will you please to recast your comment as an answer, for which I’ll happily upvote? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Aug 25 '14 at 7:15
  • It's pretty much the same answer as here. – StoneyB Aug 25 '14 at 11:48
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"As" in your example is acting as a conjunction. The meaning is closest to your Conjunction 2 definition: "the way that something happens or is done."

So by saying, "Government as by a father over his children, the sentence is saying that paternalism is when a government behaves towards its subjects or citizens in the same way that a father behaves towards his children.

Another way of putting this would be:

...government such as that exercised by a father over his children

or

...government similar to that exercised by a father over his children

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