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Title: Rooting Futures in Pasts: Women's Accounts of Violence in Multiple Generations of their Families and the Tensions and Symmetry with the Hypothesis of Intergenerational Transmission
Author(s): Alexander, Joanne H
Supervisor(s): Callaghan, Jane
Parkes, Tessa
Horton, John
Keywords: Intergenerational transmission
cycles of violence
family violence
family research
qualitative research
social ecologies
Issue Date: 12-Sep-2020
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Hitherto, the empirical evidence-base has been unable to consistently and conclusively build a persuasive case for the intergenerational transmission (IGT) of family violence. Nonetheless, the hypothesis and associated metaphors, ‘cycles of violence’ and ‘violence begets violence’, are pervasive in academic, policy, and popular discourses, and inform responses to violence including psycho-educational programmes and refuge provisions. In accordance with Social Learning Theory (e.g. Bandura, 1977; 1985), as the leading explanation of ‘transmission’, research in the field orientates much of its attention toward the family as ‘a major socializing institution’ (Black et al, 2010, p.1034). Using methods that facilitate consideration of social ecologies, this present study examines how a cohort of female participants (n=9) construct their accounts of violence within multiple (3-5) generations of their families. Adopting a pluralist qualitative design, alongside in-depth semi-structured interviews (n=15), Genograms (McGoldrick et al, 2008) facilitate an orientation of the family, while Ecomaps (Bronfenbrenner 1979a; 2005) enable a view of systems of influence within and beyond the family. Discourse Analysis (Alldred & Burman, 2005) demonstrates the tensions and symmetries between accounts of violence in multiple generations and the hypothesis of IGT, and details how the hypothesis is reproduced, reformed, and resisted by participants. Analysis shows how drawing on IGT enlists victims of violence into pathologized self-talk, into claims of complicity, and into enculturation discourses which locate them in passive and docile ways. Conversely, it illuminates how participants’ accounts challenge IGT, trouble associated assumptions, and demand a reconceptualisation of violence in multiple generations. Importantly, analysis illustrates the socially constructed nature of IGT; the role individual, family, community, and socio-cultural factors play in intergenerational (dis)continuities. This study demonstrates the need to consider precipitating social influences in their fullest sense and to move away from family-centric IGT frameworks in conceptualising, researching and responding to violence in multiple generations.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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