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Disorder or Deviant Order? Re-Theorizing Domestic Violence in Terms of Order, Power and Legitimacy: A Typology

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 16 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2011 Pages: 525-540
Clifton R. Emery
Date Published
December 2011
16 pages
This paper offers a critique of existing typologies of domestic violence and an alternative based upon fundamental sociological concepts.
It argues that the etiology and trajectory of domestic violence is fundamentally different depending on contextual aspects of the intimate relationship. The three fundamental dimensions of context are relationship order, power structure, and legitimacy. Four questions are used to classify violent acts: 1) Are there relationship norms? 2) Is power more or less shared or unequal? 3) If unequal, is the violent act by the subordinate or superordinate partner? 4) What is the relationship of the violent act to the relationship norms (Legitimacy)? Based on these four questions, acts of domestic violence are classified into Anarchic Acts, Acts of Violent Conflict, Acts of Insurrection, Acts of Retaliation, Acts of Inconsistent Control, and Acts of Consistent Control. Knowledge of the classification of a particular violent act is a necessary but insufficient condition for classifying a type of domestic violence. Based on prevailing patterns of violent acts and which violent acts are present, five types of domestic violence are identified. The five types are: 1) Anarchic Type, 2) Violent Conflict, 3) Tolerant Dictatorship, 4) Despotic Dictatorship and 5) Totalitarian Dictatorship. (Published Abstract)