Gendered and Social Hierarchies in Problem Representation and Policy Processes: ''Domestic Violence'' in Finland and Scotland

Jeff Hearn, Linda McKie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This article identifies and critiques presumptions about gender and violence that continue to frame and inform the processes of policy formation and implementation on domestic violence. It also deconstructs the agendered nature of policy as gendered, multilevel individual and collective action. Drawing on comparative illustrative material from Finland and Scotland, we discuss how national policies and discourses emphasize physical forms of violence, place the onus on the agency of women, and encourage a narrow conceptualization of violence in relationships. The two countries do this in somewhat comparable, though different ways operating within distinct national gender contexts. The complex interweaving of masculinities, violence, and cultures, although recognized in many debates, is seemingly marginalized from dominant discourses, policy, and legal processes. Despite growth in critical studies on men, there is little attempt made to problematize the gendered nature of violence. Rather, policy and service outcomes reflect processes through which individualized and masculine discourses frame ideas, discourses, and policy work. Women experiencing violence are constructed as victims and potential survivors of violence, although the social and gendered hierarchies evident in policies and services result in longer-term inequities and suffering for women and their dependents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-158
Number of pages23
JournalViolence Against Women
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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