The Reproduction of Domestic Violence in Poland

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:10
Oral Presentation
Bozena KEDZIOR, Collegium Civitas, Poland
The problem of domestic violence has received relatively little attention in the public discourse in Poland. A very important factor in this regard is the great reverence for the institution of the family expressed by the ruling right-wing party (PiS), which defends the role of the Catholic Church as the dominant source of conservative norms and values. The resulting mixture of political propaganda, cultural dynamics, and the prevailing psychologically-informed rhetoric fosters a negative public image of the victim of domestic violence, which then serves to elicit various forms of alienation. In addition, public policy measures that focus on the victim’s individual problems quite often add to her existing feelings of social incapability. A sound understanding of social and cultural causes is thus needed in order to further the emancipation of women in general and of victims of domestic violence in particular. I draw upon Zygmunt Bauman’s classification of the meanings of culture and the ensuing conceptualization of the need for freedom in terms of deviation and norm-breaking as I argue that adherence to a specific habitus prevents the confirmation of public identity on the part of domestic violence victims, 91% of whom are women. I utilize the identity-theoretic model developed by Peter J. Burke and Sheldon Stryker (where cognitive and structural approaches complement one another) in an effort to illustrate how the interplay of the social structure and self prolongs and heightens the durability of an oppressive condition. The perspective of cultural criminology, with its focus on meaning and transgression, is also fruitful for evaluating the victim's position in the light of her previous experiences, including violence in childhood.