The Social Organization of Family Violence
An Ethnography of Immigrant Experience in Vancouver

Publisher:  Women's Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada
Year Published:  1978  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX860

This study examines the social organization of wife battering among immigrant families in Vancouver. The focus is immigrant women's experience of being battered, and how this experience is located within the Canadian social and economic context.


Abstract:  This study examines the social organization of wife battering among immigrant families in Vancouver. The focus is immigrant women's experience of being battered, and how this experience is located within the Canadian social and economic context.

The data was gathered through participant observation, and in-depth interviews both with ethnic workers dealing with immigrants in Vancouver and immigrant women. People from five ethnic groups were interviewed: Chinese, East Indian, Greek, Hungarian and Portuguese.

The conclusions reached by the researchers are as follows: we found immigrant women's experience to be so similar, and the cultural variables so insignificant, that it is more meaningful to treat it as a whole, and not isolate it with respect to ethnic group. Certain unsubstantiated views are still prevalent in interpreting wife beating. These views are perpetuated in the work place, because the organization of the worker's work affects what the worker is able to see and interpret. It is our view that wife battering can only be seen as part of the dependency cycle that women find themselves in as a result of their economic dependency on men. It should be emphasized that this dependency relationship of women and men in family must be situated in the context of the larger society. While it is noted that alcohol enters into this cycle, it cannot be considered the cause of family violence. Rather, it is the social aspect of alcohol consumption which needs to be examined in order to better understand the relationship between drinking and family violence.

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