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Accounting for the hero: A critical psycho-discursive approach to children´s experiences of domestic violence and the construction of masculinities

By Caroline Dryden, Kathy Doherty and Paula Nicolson


This article employs a critical psycho-discursive approach to social identity\ud processes and subjectivity in an important and under-researched area; the\ud psychological impact of domestic violence on children. We use a case study of\ud interview interaction with two teenage brothers talking about their father's past violent behaviour to show that a highly idealised, dominant form of hegemonic masculinity - 'heroic protection discourse' (HPD) - was a major organizing principle framing both brothers' understandings of events. However, significant differences occurred in how each boy identified and made sense of self and others within this discourse. We discuss our findings in terms of (1) the destructive power of HPD to position sons as responsible for a father's violent behaviour and\ud (2) the utility of our approach for developing a better understanding of when, if or why psychological and behavioural problems associated with domestic violence are likely to develop in a particular child. In so doing, we hope to contribute to theoretical debates in social psychology on identity and subjectivity by showing how it is possible to make sense of the 'collision' between structure and agency through the study of social interaction.\ud \ud \u

Publisher: British Psychological Society
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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