The prevalence and social distribution of domestic violence: an analysis of theory and method.

PhD thesis

Mooney, J. 1994. The prevalence and social distribution of domestic violence: an analysis of theory and method. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Sociology and Social Policy
TypePhD thesis
TitleThe prevalence and social distribution of domestic violence: an analysis of theory and method.
AuthorsMooney, J.

Domestic violence is recognised as an area that requires more detailed research, particularly on the general population. Indeed the lack of authoritative statistics on the extent of domestic violence is considered to restrict the development of preventative or remedial action to alleviate the problem. This thesis is concerned, therefore, with the development of a methodology in order to generate data on the incidence and prevalence of domestic violence, the relationship of this to current theory and the implications for policy. The main research component involved a victimisation survey adapted to deal with the specific problems of researching
domestic violence. It utilized sensitive interviewing techniques, carefully worded questionnaires, a self-complete questionnaire (the 'piggy-back' method) and vignettes detailing 'conflict' situations which could lead to violence. 571 women and 429 men were interviewed which makes it the largest survey on domestic violence to be conducted in Great Britain. A qualitative component was additionally incorporated into the
methodology in order to fully explore the experience of domestic violence.
The primary focus of the research was on women's experiences of violence from husbands and boyfriends, including ex-partners, although additional information was collected on other forms domestic of and non-domestic violence against both men and women. The project investigated the extent of domestic violence; its
variation by subgroup; the nature, context and impact of the violence; definitions; levels and patterns of reporting to the various agencies and satisfaction with the response; the relationship of domestic to stranger violence; the location of domestic violence and non-domestic violence and the gendered distribution of violence. The examination of so many areas could not have been achieved without the use of a multiplicity of
This thesis, however, deals not only with the development of methodology and the subsequent findings arising from the research project. It also analyses four major criminological theories (classicism, including the new administrative criminology; positivism; feminism and left realism) in relation to domestic violence. It delineates the main principles of each theory, details how it attempts to explain, research and tackle domestic violence and identifies both strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, the empirical data generated by the research project enables the testing of hypotheses derived from the theoretical literature about the nature of violence, particularly with respect to its social and spatial patterning. On examination, the approaches of radical feminism and left realism are singled out as having the greatest purchase on the Phenomenon and a synthesis of these positions is demarcated: a feminist realism within criminology. Finally, both the research findings and theoretical discussion inform the policy recommendations. Both long-term and short-term initiatives are considered and an emphasis is placed on development of policy that is both multiagency and woman-centred.

Department nameSchool of Sociology and Social Policy
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print16 Aug 2010
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Aug 2010
Output statusPublished
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