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Theories And Discourses About Violence Against Women

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Table of contents

  1. System Theory
  2. Ecological Theory
  3. Social Control Theory
  4. Resource Theory
  5. Sub-Culture of Violence theory
  6. Feminist Theory
  7. More Sound theories

Violence against women in close relationships has been an essential topic of discussion for several scholars of different disciplines. The woman has been cursed to remain an intrinsic part of human history, so little consideration has been paid to it. New theories and discourses about this vital part of our civilization are making their place in the limelight—various approaches. Focusing on behavioural patterns to patriarchy have been proposed. Some significant theories are being narrated as follow.

System Theory

System theory considers violence as a family norm, not as an exception. Strauss was its chief proponent. The spectacle of this theory declares the violence among the intimate relationships as an annexation of the broader family system in which violence and conflict are the systematic product of the family system rather than the results of inadequate socialization or psychotic personality. It goes beyond the individual level in studying the cause and effect of violence.

Ecological Theory

Donald Dutton advocated this theory, and it focuses on the individual’s personality development rather than family structure. It advocates the individual learns that violence through his experience in the social setting. Dutton identifies four levels of systemic social context that shape individual behaviour. The macro-system is composed of broad cultural values and belief systems. The exo-system is composed of the groups and institutions that connect the family to the more inclusive environment. The micro-system is the family unit itself. Finally, ontogenetic factors refer to an individual’s personal development. Dutton asserts that factors from all four of these systemic levels come to bear on any given intimate partner violence scenario.

Social Control Theory

This theory narrates that violence occurs when the rewards of violent behaviour become more significant than the risks. In other words, the rewards of behaving violently are higher than the costs. The individual adopts the way of violence when it guarantees him more benefits than losses. This theory is an understanding of intimate partner violence. It is asserted that to reduce the violence in family rewards must be decreased because its the social glorification of violence that produces rewards and costs must be increased. Severe legal and social consequences must be imposed.

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Resource Theory

Goode, Allen and Strauss advocated this theory. Resource theory posits that for the achievement of their goals, individuals use the resources that are available to them. Violence is one resource that can be used to achieve personal interests in a relationship. The availability of more resources will hinder the chances to use violence. In other words, the supply of force will be used only when additional resources are depleted. Thus, a person who has low resources in terms of status or income or prestige might be more inclined to use violence to achieve the goal of dominance in intimate relationships.

Sub-Culture of Violence theory

Wolfgang and Ferracuti developed this theory for the study of criminal’s attitudes towards violence. It is related to the macro-level of society. But later on, it was applied to study the violence in intimate relationships and family. This theory relates the intensity to the values and norms running through the sub-culture of a system. The person living in that subculture learns the use of violence from their subsystem and accepts it uncritically. In other words, violence is socially learned and passed on by group members, thus sustaining the subculture of violence.

Feminist Theory

Feminist theories state that intimate violence is a gender issue which can’t be understood without gender analysis. The patriarchal domination of women through wife abuse has a long cultural history. Violence against wives is a separate unit of analysis that must be studied on its own. In other words, wife beating is not just an expression of family violence but an independent phenomenon with its causes, correlates, and properties, therefore, it cannot be viewed through the same lens as other types of family violence.

More Sound theories

All theories have different assertions, and they try to explain the violence in intimate relations through different angles. System theory and sub-culture of violence theory are short-sighted. They have applied methods while ecological theory and exchange theory proved to be deep-rooted in studying the development of violence. Resource theory tries to give the materialist reasons for violence, but it also limits itself to the mathematical summation of benefits and losses. Feminist theory studies the violence in its real historical sense. It tries to uncover the inherited roots of violence developed through the process of history, and that’s why, despite all its limitations, it is far more profound and holistic than other theories.

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Theories And Discourses About Violence Against Women. (2021, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
“Theories And Discourses About Violence Against Women.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2021,
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Theories And Discourses About Violence Against Women [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Oct 2]. Available from:
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