theories listed, the relative deprivation theory and the general strain theory best explain domestic violence, as well as the high rate of recidivism, despite punishment. However, we should mention in the very beginning that each theory listed best explains a certain category of people, generally divided by income and level of education. The two I have selected are a match for the highest percentage of women batterers.
The relative deprivation theory believes that domestic violence occurs when there is a significant difference in the achievements of each of the members of the couple. In general, in my opinion, these tend to be professional achievements and the theory is best exemplified by those couples where the husband is unemployed or having a job that is not satisfying, while the wife is earning much more than him and is the one contributing most to the family budget.
The relative deprivation theory was actually discussed when referring to the differences between the poor and rich classes and was created as an explanation for rising crime rates in different urban areas. When apply to such a level, the theory includes not only income differences, but also issues such as racial discrimination, inequality of chances, etc.
Let's discuss how this theory works to explain domestic violence. There are two levels of frustration we should consider on behalf of the batterer. First of all, there is the family level I have already mentioned: the woman has a more successful career and earns more money. There are several reasons for the man to feel frustrated. One of them is related to pride. The man has always perceived himself as the provider for the family. In this case, not only does the fact that he no longer provides count, but, additionally, he is provided for.
On the other hand, there is still a general perception in these kind of families that the man needs to have a successful career, as a sine qua non-condition. For the woman, this is not a necessity: she may have a professional career, but it is not part of her 'must job description'.
The elements I have provided in the previous paragraphs form the necessary causality for domestic violence. Indeed, they are enough to "form negative self-feelings and hostility"
. Before turning into domestic violence, the negative self-feelings are likely to pass through alcoholism and deviatory behavior. As for hostility, this obviously contributes straight away at producing a negative climate in the household. From this to actual violence there is but one single step.
The general strain theory is also an excellent explanatory theory in our case, as it "helps identify micro- or individual-level influences of strain"
. I need to emphasize the fact that, in my personal opinion, the theories that explain the formation of violent behavior, leading to domestic violence, on a personal and individual level are best. I will detail in the last paragraphs why I think they apply better than the social theories in this case.
The general strain theory, developed by Robert Agnew, relates criminal behavior to "negative affective states"
. The sources of strain are numerous and we may acknowledge that we come across them in every aspect of our lives. These include failing to achieve certain goals (socially and professionally, in my opinion, and closely linked to the previous theory I have presented), a strong differentiation between one's expectations and his actual achievements (a significant source of stress: where I should be and where I actually am) and the removal of positively values stimuli…
Sources Used in Document:
1. Harmon, Patricia Anne. Why do men batter women? Assessing empathy, self-regard and narcissism levels, and attitudes toward women, men's roles and family of origin experiences among middle to upper class male batterers. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, Vol 62(12-B), 2002. pp. 6023. U.S.: Univ Microfilms International
2. Chapter 5: Social Structure Theory: Because they are poor
Chapter 5: Social Structure Theory: Because they are poor. Page 143