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When the personal is not political: experiences of collective agency amongst participants in the domestic violence response in London, UK

Campbell, Catherine (2021) When the personal is not political: experiences of collective agency amongst participants in the domestic violence response in London, UK. Critical Public Health, 31 (3). 280 - 292. ISSN 0958-1596

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09581596.2021.1874296

Abstract

How are changing times impacting on the possibility of collective agency by actors and agencies responding to domestic violence against women in London? The struggle against the domestic abuse of women was grounded in the 1970s women’s liberation movement under the rallying cry of ‘the personal is the political’. Over time, the domestic violence (DV) response has become professionalised and mainstreamed, located in public sector agencies and charities, with small feminist groups challenging gender inequalities in different settings. These combined efforts are having no impact on the incidence of DV, and recent years have seen dramatic cuts in DV services. A snowball sample of 25 professionals, policy makers and activists across the DV response engaged in semi-structured interviews exploring their work experiences, particularly experiences of ‘multi-sectoral collaboration’, the professional instantiation of collective agency. Thematic analysis depicted an exhausted and divided sector. Nearly all informants saw DV as rooted in gender inequalities, and viewed collaborative working as essential for tackling its interlocking individual and social drivers. However, contemporary feminism was seen as completely irrelevant to the daily realities of professionals’ work. The paper explores how the current economic, political and cultural contexts of interviewees’ work experiences were hostile to the practice of multi-sectoral collaboration. Such contexts actively militated against collaborator solidarity, the inclusion of survivor voices and a social change orientation –preconditions for effective collective agency in tackling such a complex and multi-level social problem.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ccph20/current
Additional Information: © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2021 12:06
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 03:13
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/108568

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