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The Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence

Murray A. Straus and Gerald T. Hotaling, editors

The Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence

Using a variety of approaches, the authors of the essays in this collection examine aspects of family stress from both social and cultural viewpoints. Their shared view is that violence is the result of fundamental contradictions built into family life. Real change will come about only with a restructuring of the relations between men and women. The authors move beyond the problem of physical violence to an understanding of the nature of the family itself.

Using a variety of approaches, the authors of the essays in this collection examine aspects of family stress from both social and cultural viewpoints. Their shared view is that violence is the result of fundamental contradictions built into family life. Real change will come about only with a restructuring of the relations between men and women. The authors move beyond the problem of physical violence to an understanding of the nature of the family itself.

The Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence

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Why is the social group that society most often looks to for warmth, intimacy, and love also characterized by cruelty and violence? This book attempts to answer that seemingly ironic question. The authors examine aspects of family stress from both social and cultural viewpoints and conclude that violence grows out of the nature of social arrangements and cannot be explained in terms of the personalities of husbands and wives. They emphasize the fundamental contradictions built into family life as it is now constituted, and point out that counseling and family therapy alone will not decrease the level of violence in family settings. Real change will come about only with a restructuring of the relations between women and men, and that in turn is dependent upon a fundamental reallocation of power and status in society at large. In their examination of the apparently irrational or bizarre aspects of family life, the authors of this book move beyond the problem of physical violence to an understanding of the nature of the family itself.

The editors observe that researchers in family violence have placed too great an emphasis on fact-gathering and have not devoted enough time to testing casual theories. To redress that balance, half the chapters in this book make theoretical proposals.

The Social Causes of Husband-Wife Violence

Murray A. Straus is Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. Among his books are Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family and Family Measurement Techniques.

Gerald T. Hotaling was an instructor in the department of sociology at the University of Vermont.

The authors, in addition to Straus and Hotaling, are Martha D. Huggins, Joseph C. Carroll, Keith M. Farrington, Joyce E. Foss, Ralph La Rossa, and Craig M. Allen.

About This Book