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Who Owns Domestic Abuse?

Who Owns Domestic Abuse?: The Local Politics of a Social Problem

Ruth M. Mann
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    Who Owns Domestic Abuse?
    Book Description:

    Mann details a community effort to establish a shelter for abused women in a small Ontario municipality. She uses personal accounts of abuse to urge activists and intervenors to argue less and listen more.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8340-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acronyms
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. 1 Theoretical and Political Contexts
    (pp. 3-18)

    Who Owns Domestic Abuse? addresses collective and personal attempts to deal with a problem publicly defined asdomestic abusein a Southern Ontario community during an intensive phase of social action centred around the development of a women′s shelter. I direct primary attention to the unintended consequences of competition for ′ownership′ of the problem and its solution among pro-feminist and non-feminist abuse advocates, professionals, and community leaders. I situate this public activity within the context of ′abuse as a lived experience′ as glimpsed through the reported experiences and perceptions of abuse victims, perpetrators, and survivors. This dual examination results in...

  7. 2 The Study, the Community, and ′The Problem′
    (pp. 19-38)

    I name the research community the Township. In 1991 and 1992 the Township was a collection of smaller towns and villages with intervening rural and recreational lands. It lay on the periphery of one of several Southern Ontario regions composed of similar municipalities.

    My research in the Township began with a radio interview on the ways various Ontario communities were responding to domestic violence or wife abuse. This media presentation served as my introduction to three key respondents, Lisa, Bob, and Charles, and to one core agency, the Domestic Violence Committee of a Township housing cooperative. The radio interview was...

  8. 3 Mobilization of Action: Struggles for Control
    (pp. 39-66)

    This chapter examines the ways strategic, contentious, ricocheting practices between or among Domestic Abuse Committee activists and their opponents molded or framed efforts to address the problem ofdomestic abusein the Township (Schneider, 1985). The general process was one of escalating polarizations. These polarizations emerged from a series of struggles over who specifically should develop and implement the widely agreed upon and broadly supported plan to establish a women′s shelter. Major contenders were female Township Resource Centre staff and affiliated professionals at the core of the Domestic Abuse Committee, and a contingent of male volunteers who served on the...

  9. 4 Implementation of a Plan of Action: Struggles with Control
    (pp. 67-88)

    In ′Social Problems as Collective Behavior,′ Herbert Blumer (1971) noted that there are typically deep disparities between an official plan and its implementation, that actors tend to bend the plan, substituting their own policies or agendas, and that unforeseen and largely unintended consequences ensue, including the redefinition of the problem and its solution. Blumer concludes: ′I scarcely know of any facet of the general area of social problems research that is more important, less understood, and less studied than that of unforeseen and unintended restructuring ... that arises from the implementation of an official plan′ (Blumer, 1971: 305). This chapter...

  10. 5 Counselling and Therapeutic Intervenors
    (pp. 89-112)

    Therapists and counsellors employed through the Regional Woman Abuse Program and the Regional Sex Abuse Program participated in Domestic Abuse Committee activities, as core participants, workshop presenters, and consultants. With colleagues in private practice, they implemented court-mandated and voluntary counselling programs promoted through the police, the courts, the Regional welfare office, the Children′s Aid Society, and the Township Resource Centre.¹ This chapter focuses on how their services and orientations fit with the Domestic Abuse Committee′s vision of a community-coordinated inter-agency response todomestic abuse.

    My analysis focuses on practices and perceptions relevant to the four issues that fuelled polarizations during...

  11. 6 Law Enforcement, Legal, and Medical Intervenors
    (pp. 113-132)

    This chapter examines the abuse-related practices and perspectives of law enforcement, legal, and medical professionals involved with or publicly supportive of the shelter process. As in the previous chapter, my analysis focuses on tensions between pro-feminist and more mainstream therapeutic understandings of abuse, and the effects of these on efforts of Domestic Abuse Committee activists to establish a women′s shelter as part of a coordinated community response todomestic abuse. Again, I organize the discussion around the four issues that fuelled polarizations: the relevance of gender to abuse; the relevance of alcohol problems to abuse; the relevance of intergenerational family...

  12. 7 Victims, Perpetrators, and Survivors
    (pp. 133-196)

    This chapter examines seven personal accounts of abuse provided by women and men who had successfully overcome serious and even lifethreatening forms of partner violence, or who were engaged in efforts to achieve this. These women and men were encountered in a variety of research contexts, in a social environment in which everyone seemed to be talking about abuse, and in which everyone seemed motivated to contribute to finding ways to overcome and prevent abuse. None of the seven was a core respondent in the shelter process. All were recruited from the Township′s ′audience′ of residents, and all had current...

  13. 8 A Researcher′s Construction of ′The Problem′: Conclusion
    (pp. 197-208)

    This study addresses varying constructions of a social problem defined asdomestic abuseby activists engaged in the development of a shelter for women in a small-town Ontario community during 1991–2. Following Herbert Blumer (1971) and Joel Best (1993), I have examined two theoretically distinct processes, the politics of abuse and the experiential reality of abuse. I have addressed the politics of abuse through an analysis of the practices of claims-makers competing for ′ownership′ of the problem from ′mobilization of action′ to ′implementation of an official plan of action′; and I have addressed the experiential reality of abuse through...

    (pp. 209-226)
  15. Tables: Summaries of Demographic and Survey Data
    (pp. 227-262)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 263-282)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-304)
  18. Author Index
    (pp. 305-310)
  19. Subject Index
    (pp. 311-322)