My aim is to investigate domestic violence and the reasons why it occurs. I am keen to find out about this topic as I feel that domestic violence is a subject covered up by society. I believe that people should know more about domestic violence, what it involves and why it occurs within the family.
Many police records and statistical data show the amount of domestic violence that occurs, but studies like Dobash and Dobash and Elizabeth A Stanko show this is only the tip of the iceberg, compared to what really goes on behind closed doors.
Context and concepts
When researching into why domestic violence occurs I came across many concepts, around the idea of why domestic violence occurs. The first concept that is used in Elizabeth’s Stanko’s study ‘wife battering’. This is a term, which refers to what the husband actually does to the wife. When he hits and beats her it is known as ‘wife battering’. Some sociologists believe this is the wrong phrase to use. I chose this concept as I believe it should be called ‘abusive husbands’ as ‘wife battering’ sounds that it is the wife’s fault, which more often than not is isn’t.
The second concept that I am going to look at is the word Victim. A victim means a person who is injured or hurt by another as the result of an event or circumstance. In this case, the woman is assaulted by her husband. I chose this word to use as one of my concepts as the word victim plays a big part when looking at domestic violence.
‘Wife battering, all in the family’ is a study written by Elizabeth A Stanko, which claims that only 1 out of every 270 cases of domestic violence, is reported. There are 3,020 reported cases of violence in two Scottish cities; the police found that domestic violence was the second largest type of assault that police know about. In her study she tries to establish why women stay with there husbands and she concluded that the reasons were that the women feel bounded in the relationship and some women feel that their husbands can change and they are really truly sorry. I have included this study as it is relevant to my original aim, why it occurs and why the women stay with their husbands.
Dobash and Dobash also did a similar survey of violence in Scotland and they also found that the second most common type of violence is wife assault. And after many interviews with women they found that only about 2% of cases are actually reported. The violence ranged from a single slap to a choking, kicking, punching and occasionally weapons are used. They found that 75.8% of all violence in the home is wife assault, which is an incredibly big percentage. Feminism plays a big part in this study as they frequently deal with the issue of domestic violence and quite a lot of their studies are about this issue.
Main research methods and reasons
The research method that I will be using for my coursework is an unstructured interview. An unstructured interview would be the best method for me, as it would provide a more comfortable atmosphere for the interviewee to answer. This will help me to create a special bond with the interviewee. In order to carry this out I would have to find someone who would be willing to participate, as domestic violence is a very sensitive subject. Interpretivists use this method as they gain in-depth qualitative data. I will set up the interview more like an informal conversation than a stereotyped interview. I will have no predetermined questions but I will have general topics of discussion. I must be careful not to ask any leading questions, as this will effect my respondent’s answers.
The big advantage of an unstructured interview is that I will have the opportunity to get a rich insight and understanding of the topic that of domestic violence and this is the only method that will enable me to understand the reasons why it occurs. I feel that this method is better than a structured interview as I will be able to find out things from the respondent that would lead to further discussion.
When conducting the interview I have to be very sympathetic towards the respondent’s feelings, as domestic violence is a very sensitive subject. Confidentiality is a big part of these interviews as the topic that I will be dealing with a criminal issue. I must be aware that these types of interviews will be very time consuming.
In order to obtain the right participants, I will have to use a sampling method called snowball sampling. In order to get in touch with women that have suffered with domestic violence I could go to a women’s refuge. To get a valid set of results I will have to interview 40-50 women this is a large enough sample to establish the thoughts and feelings of each victim and hopefully understand the reasons why domestic violence occurs. As the interviews involve gaining the victims trust, setting up a personal relationship and reassuring confidentiality, I understand this will be a very time consuming process.
As the interviewer I understand that I could have some influence on the participant and the answer she gives me. I will take this into consideration when analysing my final results. A video recorder will record the interview and this will help be when analysing my results.
The first problem that I could come across is not been able to get enough people to participate in the study. As I am getting my participants from a women’s refuge. This may not be possible, as the women at the refuge may not want to talk, as they would probably be in a very vulnerable and delicate state. It also may be classed as unethical and it could make their problems worse.
The second problem could be that the interviewer could influence the respondent’s answers. In order to get the most valid answers I would have to gain their trust and make them feel more comfortable. This can sway their thoughts and feelings. This could effect the respondents answers and affect the study overall.
One ethical problem is that when analysing the data gained from the participant it all has to be strictly confidential which is very hard when dealing with criminal behaviour. It also may lead to major complications when producing and publicising the findings.
One of the theoretical problems of this research is according to positivists it lacks reliability as it is such as small sample and I wouldn’t be able to generalise my findings.
The final potential problem is how I will record my data. If I went ahead and used a video recorder to record the interviews it may upset the respondents, as they may feel uncomfortable and uneasy during the interview. This could mean that the data that is given could not be as valid as I would need it to be in order to carry out my research. Another way that could record my findings is to write up what the respondent has said at the later date. This method could also not be valid as some of the vital information could be forgotten or misinterpreted.