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Dr Jude Towers

Senior Research Associate

Jude Towers

Bowland North

Lancaster University

Bailrigg

Lancaster LA1 4YN

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 594175

Location:

Research overview

My research is concerned with aetiologies of violence; in particular whether, where and how violence against women fits within wider analyses of causal pathways of gender-based violence and violent crime. Questions of inequality and regimes of power, governance and intervention are fundamental contexts within which this question is embedded. Integral to this substantive research agenda is my research interest in measurement regimes of violence. 

Current Research

Is the Rate of Domestic Violence Increasing or Decreasing? A Re-analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey)

I am currently working full-time on an 18 month ESRC funded Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI)project entitled ‘Is the Rate of Domestic Violence Increasing or Decreasing? A Re-analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey)’. The SDAI scheme is intended to deliver high impact policy and practitioner relevant research through the deeper exploitation of the major data resources created by the ESRC and other agencies.

Our SDAI project interrogates the changing rate of domestic violence in England and Wales. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW: one of the world’s leading surveys in the measurement of domestic violence over time) has recorded a declining rate in domestic violence for more than a decade (1995-2009). However, data recorded from 2009 suggests the year-on-year rate of domestic violence may have stabilised or even be increasing.

Enormous energy and resource has been expended in developing policy responses to reduce domestic and gender-based violence.  This policy goal has been consistent across governments.  There has been extraordinary success in driving down the rate of domestic violence.  Data suggesting the rate of domestic violence has now stabilised or maybe increasing, rather than continuing to decline, is therefore acutely challenging. 

Our project explores in detail changes in the rate of domestic violence over time through the CSEW. It assesses the impact of different survey methodologies and examines whether: the rate of change over time differs with alternative definitions and/or thresholds of violence; rates over time differ across different sub-groups; and whether there are correlations with changes in gender regimes, the economy, and other crime types.

The implications of these findings for theories of violence, for policy, and for sites of intervention are also considered.

The Principal Investigator on the project is Prof Sylvia Walby (http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/profiles/Sylvia-Walby/) and the Co-Investigator is Prof Brian Francis (http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~asabjf).

Thesis Outline

Economic Inequality and Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: An Analysis of the British Crime Survey 2008/09

2013

My PhD research examines how economic inequality is associated with intimate partner violence against women. It finds working-age women in England and Wales with fewer economic resources are more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to women with comparatively greater economic resources. Economic inequality is conceived as the disparity in economic resources across a population. This therefore links the empirical findings to the wider concept. The main conclusion drawn from the research is that economic inequality is associated with increased likelihood of intimate partner violence against women.

My PhD extends previous work on this question by considering a greater range of resources, in conjunction with one another, across three units of analysis (individual, household and neighbourhood). It also specifically examines how economic inequality is related to remaining in, and exiting from, recently violent relationships for women from the same population.

Analysis is conducted on a representative sample of 12,920 working-age women in the British Crime Survey 2008/09 (re-named the Crime Survey for England and Wales from April 2012). The process of critically analysing the choice of data source and measure of intimate partner violence is essential. It ensures that the empirical findings are robust and that conclusions drawn are framed by the strengths, but also any limitations, of these choices. 

One set of key findings is that not all economic resources are of equal importance in association with intimate partner violence. From this research housing tenure is identified as the most important economic resource in association with intimate partner violence against working-age women. In addition, women’s occupational status appears to be more significant than current employment status. In this research, as in previous research, women’s earned income is found to be an important associate with intimate partner violence. However, the relationship between earned income, other economic resources and whether women remain in or have exited from recently violent relationships is found to be extremely complex, much more so than has typically been found in previous studies. 

Considering economic resources across three units of analysis enabled the interconnections between them to be explored. This reveals the importance of household, compared to individual and neighbourhood, economic resources. This is because, in this research, women’s household structure, whether single-adult female headed, living with violent partner or living with new (non-violent) partner, was found to be the key factor in unpicking the associations between economic inequality, intimate partner violence against women and whether women remained in or had exited recently violent relationships. 

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