Understanding Sexed and Racialised Violence: An Intersectional Approach

Monk, Helen L (2011) Understanding Sexed and Racialised Violence: An Intersectional Approach. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The purpose of this thesis is to address the relative effectiveness and usefulness of intersectionality as an elastic concept which can span more than the theoretical arena. To do this, the prevailing social problem of violence against ethnicised women is examined in all its complexities. Intersectionality works on two strategic levels – firstly, the framework recognises that individuals are comprised of numerous identity markers and that these characteristics take on a multiplicative relationship, and secondly, that structural systems of power exist within society to reinforce hierarchical privileges and oppressions that are predicated on identity. This thesis presents intersectionality as a possible way of framing the various interactions of social divisions, and the regimes of inequality which cut-across them, in the context of violence against ethnicised women. This violence is analysed through theoretical, policy and practical responses with particular attention being paid to how the three spheres deal with difference on a variety of analytical levels. A content analysis of New Labour government policy adopts intersectionality as a lens with which to ascertain how valuable this frame is as a methodological tool. Ten interviews with service
providers from the violence against women field are conducted in order to gain experiential insight into how identity is seen to shape experience and appropriate responses. This thesis demonstrates that competing perceptions of identity, which are contextually and historically contingent, create a series of specific problems for ethnicised women that are frequently rooted in discourses of marginality, difference and homogeny. Intersectionality is a useful way of creating increased fluidity between theory, policy and practice, and of heightening an understanding of the heterogeneity of women’s experiences. It
has much to offer the VAW field in the UK.

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