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A FAIRYTALE ENDING? Violence in Young Adult Dating Relationships in New Zealand:Testing the utility of Johnson’s typology

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posted on 23.03.2021, 02:31 by Fleur McLaren
Dating violence is a serious social problem that causes significant harm and negative outcomes for young adults (Shorey, Cornelius, & Bell, 2008). Attempts to explain dating violence have often treated those who experience it as a homogeneous group, with theorists divided over the question of gender symmetry versus male dominance as perpetrators. While family conflict researchers advocate gender symmetry, most feminist researchers stress differential offending rates that reflect current gender inequalities.

A more sophisticated conceptual framework is required that captures the heterogeneous and complex nature of violence in dating and other interpersonal relationships (Lewis & Fremouw, 2001). This has led a number of researchers to develop empirically-based theories and models that attempt to reconcile different findings across studies. One of these is a typology of violence developed by Michael Johnson (2008) as a way to reconcile the differences between studies.

This thesis applies Johnson’s typology to the context of young adult dating relationships in New Zealand with the aim of understanding more about the role of gender within intimate partner relationships. I utilised a mixed methods approach that included an extensive literature review, key informant interviews, an online survey, and in-depth qualitative interviews.

This research identified two overarching findings. First, there was overwhelming evidence that a large majority of young adults experience some form of violence in a dating relationship, from more minor experiences to dating relationships characterised by severe and terrifying violence. The data demonstrate how dating violence is linked to the social norms of a youth culture characterised by high alcohol use and expectations around ‘hooking-up’, with contemporary technology adding to the complexities facing young adults as they navigate this terrain.

The second main finding from this study was that there was positive support for Johnson’s (2008) typology in that there are different types of violence in intimate relationships, in this case in dating relationships. The interview data suggest that the complexity of dating violence is better captured through such a typological framework that does not view all dating violence as a unitary phenomenon. My application of Johnson’s typology provides a narrative that accounts for both dominant traditional gendered violence and also for violent relationships characterised by mutual expressions of conflict and violence. There are, however, some risks associated with the use of such typologies that I also identify and address.

This study holds particular significance as one of the few New Zealand-based analyses of violence occurring in the context of contemporary New Zealand dating relationships. The findings provide strong support for the need to focus on a range of interventions and programmes delivered to young adults who are experiencing different types of violence. They also underscore the importance of critically analysing media messages, challenging traditional gender norms, and confronting attitudes and beliefs that support and validate the use of violence in dating relationships.

History

Advisor 1

Jordan, Jan

Advisor 2

Sibanda, Nokuthaba

Copyright Date

23/03/2021

Date of Award

23/03/2021

Publisher

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Criminology

Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level

Doctoral

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 APPLIED RESEARCH

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis

Language

en_NZ

Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies