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Men and Their Interventions in Violence Against Women: Developing an Institutional Ethnography

By Carole Irene Wright


The aim of this study is to explore the social organisation of men’s intervention in men’s violence against women, and the men who work within this realm. The area of intervention chosen, known as ‘domestic violence’, has seen considerable voluntary sector growth during the past two decades. However, few studies have investigated the positioning of men’s intervention within the wider context of ‘domestic violence support and services, which, in the main, have been developed by women. Therefore, this study maps the interconnections of men’s everyday workings within ‘domestic violence’ as professionals, public service providers, activists, and as men.\ud \ud \ud The study was underpinned by a feminist framework and attempted to synthesise theory, practice and activism. Dorothy E. Smith’s approach of institutional ethnography was employed, and analysis was rooted in her concepts of ‘ruling relations’ and ‘Ideological codes’. The entry point for research comprised professional men who worked with men who had been violent to known women, as well as men who volunteered their time in violence prevention campaigns. During the course of the research seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted, and thirty public and semi-public events around the theme of men’s violence towards women were attended. \ud \ud \ud The main findings from this study include the identification of processes that have reconceptualised the social problem of men’s violence towards women into ‘the relations of ruling’. Findings also suggest that feminism as an ‘ideological code’ is a key organiser of social relations within the ‘domestic violence’ sector. Furthermore, although the majority of leadership, work and activism within the area of ‘domestic violence’ is carried out by women, and despite the relative smallness of men’s intervention in ‘domestic violence’, the findings indicate that disproportionate opportunities for men to utilise their social power can be available in this area of intervention

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