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Dr Jude Towers GradStat

Formerly at Lancaster University

PhD supervision

I welcome research students in the areas of: violence and society; gender-based violence; and the measurement of violence, especially quantitative sociological research on violence.

Research Interests

Latest publication: Walby and Towers (2017) 'Measuring violence to end violence: Mainstreaming gender' Journal of Gender-Based Violence 1(1).

Walby, Towers et al (2017) The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men Bristol, Policy Press.

The collaborative research programme on violence and society has been supported by the European Commission, European Parliament, Trust for London, Northern Rock Foundation, and the Economic and Social Research Council.

I am a Doctor of Applied Social Statistics, Lecturer in Sociology and Quantitative Methods, Associate Director of the Violence & Society UNESCO Centre, lead for the N8 Policing Research Partnership Training and Learning strand, ESRC-funded Research Data Management Champion, and hold Graduate Statistician status from the Royal Statistical Society.

My research is specifically concerned with aetiologies of violence and is situated within the emerging field of ‘violence and society’ which understands violence to be central to the analysis of social relations and not reducible to other social processes. I am interested in variations in different forms of violence, in developing theories of causal pathways of violence; to what extent these are shared or differentiated and specific. Integral to this is the measurement of violence, the identification and analysis of new sources of data, and the development of new mechanisms to capture data on new and old forms of violence. 




Current Research

The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men 

My current research is focused on the concept and measurement of violence against women and men - published as a book (of the same title) in 2017 by Walby, Towers et al, with Policy Press. This research has been further developed in two publications (both in 2017 with Walby): 'Measuring Violence to End Violence: Mainstreaming Gender' in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence 1(1); and 'Untangling the Concept of Coercive Control: Theorizing Domestic Violent Crime' forthcoming in Crime and Criminal Justice.

The on-going research prgramme involves: extending the analysis of trends in violent crime ; interrogating the composition of and trends in high frequency violent crime victimisation; interrogating the correlations in increasing rates of violent crime against women with the economic crisis; and investigating the potential of administrative data on violence to act as a proxy for survey data on violent crime.



Career Details

I am actively pursuing my research interest in aetiologies of violence. The early stages of my research career have focused on developing new methodologies for a measurement framework of violence, especially gender-based violence against women.

Commencing immediately after the submission of my PhD, I was the (named) Senior Research Associate on an 18 month (2013/14) ESRC-funded Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) grant entitled: Is the Rate of Domestic Violence Decreasing or Increasing? A Re-analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales with Prof Sylvia Walby and Prof Brian Francis at LU. Although the ESRC grant has now ended, the work from this project is at the core of ongoing research. Utilising data from the CSEW, the project developed a new methodology for estimating rates of violent crime and used these to map the trajectories of violent crime, domestic violent crime, violent crime against women, and violent crime against men in England and Wales over a 20 year period from 1994 to 2013/14. In contrast to official published statistics which show violent crime is still falling, our findings suggest that violent crime against women and domestic violent crime have both been increasing since 2009. This is because those victims who experience multiple incidents of violence were not fully included in the official method for estimating violent crimes – our work suggests this specific set of victims may now be experiencing a greater number of violent incidents – and it is changes in this group which may be affecting overall violent crime rates, which have also started to increase since 2009.

The two peer-reviewed publications (published so far) from this project 'Mainstreaming domestic and gender-based violence into sociology and the criminology of violence' in The Sociological Review and 'Is violent crime increasing or decreasing? A new methodology to measure repeat attacks making visible the significance of gender and domestic relations' in the BJC have received significant media attention and have influence a review the ONS on the measurement of domestic violence and the methodology for estimating crime rates in England and Wales and been cited in Parliamentary Questions.  

This work is further progressing through a collaboration with colleagues from across Europe to develop a measurement framework for gender-based violence against women.

I have also been working on issues of data and measurement in two projects on trafficking in human beings funded by the European Commission: Gender Dimensions of Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation; and Study on Comprehensive Policy Review of Anti-trafficking Projects funded by the European Commission. This is providing important additional research which is contributing to the development of methodologies to collect data on and to measure different forms of violence.

The SOCL 327 Violence & Society Module at Lancaster University is the research led teaching component of this work: I am convening the Module in the 2015-16 academic year.

Current Teaching

Thesis Outline

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


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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