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Intimate partner violence: The impact of discourse on a coordinated response


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Winter, RE 2012 , 'Intimate partner violence: The impact of discourse on a coordinated response', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The nature of domestic violence service provision has been changing in recent
years as a result of the shift towards criminalisation and multi-agency responses.
Tasmania introduced criminal justice legislation and an associated policy
framework to address intimate partner violence in 2004 which was recognised as
best practice. This thesis provides an Australian context to the international
debate on the criminalisation of intimate partner violence. The research
demonstrates that professional ideologies and organisational discourses
influence the implementation of multi-agency responses to intimate partner
violence. Using a grounded theory approach with semi-structured interviews
and field observations, I explore the discourses employed by police, the legal
fraternity and victim advocates to identify three major categories. These are the
‘justice’ discourse; the ‘risk management’ discourse; and the ‘genuine victim’
discourse. This research introduces the work of Hajer into sociology and
criminology via an exploration of Hajer's concepts of discourse
institutionalisation and discourse coalitions. The contribution of this thesis to
the literature is the demonstration that discursive and material practices around
justice, risk management and victimisation both converge and diverge to a
degree between the government agencies involved in a particular discourse
coalition; providing insights on the way in which agents construct the cultural
conditions that support or countervail an attempt to manifest widespread social
change through legislation. While both the justice discourse and the risk
management discourse satisfy the conditions for discourse institutionalisation, the power of the genuine victim is more subtle and rhizomatic and it achieves
significant influence through its insinuation into the other two discourses,
effectively providing a gatekeeping mechanism for access to justice. In addition
to the findings around discourse, the research has also highlighted issues relating
to the implementation of Tasmania’s Safe at Home policy. The results suggest
that the risk framework as practiced by Tasmania police is not universally
accepted by all members of the policy network around intimate partner violence.
Furthermore, the way in which victims are constructed by police and legal
professionals in combination with additional ideological discourses around
evidence and legal processes may in fact compromise victim safety.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Winter, RE
Keywords: criminal policy, family violence, Tasmania, discourse, networks
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