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Old Problems and New Directions in the Study of Violence Against Women (From Issues in Intimate Violence, P 197-208, 1998, Raquel Kennedy Bergen, ed. -- See NCJ-176608)

NCJ Number
D Kurz
Date Published
12 pages
This chapter examines how the framing of violence against women as a problem of "family" violence and the compartmentalization of this issue in current research obscures the prevalence and impact of this significant problem.
Two factors converge to prevent the public, researchers, and policymakers from seeing how extensively violence against women permeates American society and how it can affect all aspects of women's lives. The first is the current conceptualization of this issue in gender-neutral terms. When discussing violence against women, many social science researchers, policymakers, and those in the media use terms such as "family violence," "intimate violence," or "domestic violence" (Jones, 1994; Lamb, 1991). As they are currently used, these constructs convey the impression that violence is directed by all family members against all other family members, and they mask the facts of who is being violent to whom (Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, and Daly, 1992; Lamb, 1991, 1995). The author argues that although a variety of types of violence occur in the family, the use of gender-neutral terms such as "family violence" can conceal the serious problem of violence against women. The second major factor that obscures knowledge of the prevalence of violence against women and its impact on their lives is the compartmentalization of this issue in research and social policy; although more researchers and policymakers are aware of domestic violence as a general problem and refer to it in their work, they all too often fail to investigate how violence may be an important part of the particular problem they study. Thus, researchers study the family or violence, or work or violence, or divorce or violence, rather than recognizing that violence against women is an integral part of women's experiences in all of these social arenas (Kurz, 1996). 6 notes and 73 references