Professional self-positioning of Indian social workers in response to domestic violence
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CitationPiippo, Sisko. Hirvonen, Pasi. Carter Anand, Janet. (2020). Professional self-positioning of Indian social workers in response to domestic violence. Journal of interpersonal violence, [Epub ahead of print 21 May 2020], 1-24. 10.1177/0886260520922920.
This article explores the self-positioning of Indian social workers who work with female survivors of domestic violence (DV). We know from previous research about the experiences of persons who have encountered DV, but more studies on the point of view of the professionals is needed. Relying on positioning theory and discursive analysis as a framework, we analyzed interviews (N = 18) concerning the practices, emotions, and attitudes of social workers. Positioning theory enables scholars to approach the situation of encountering a survivor as a social event, which consists of the meaning-making activities of social workers. Professionals self-position themselves as one or a combination of the following: (a) a challenger of gendered oppression, (b) an advocator of women’s rights, (c) a facilitator of women’s empowerment, and/or (d) a self-reflector of personal emotions and attitudes. The findings suggest that the event of DV intervention is a discursive and contextually situated moral practice in which the distribution of rights and duties to say and do things is of particular interest. The act of self-positioning is constructed in relation to sociocultural settings. Social workers may take several positions during the meetings with survivors. Positions build our understanding of how social workers in violence-specific units make sense of DV, illustrating how the act of self-positioning may also define to the position of the survivor. Social workers experienced boundaries, and possibilities in responding to DV were explored. The study reveals that barriers should be addressed at a wider level by funders and policy makers to enhance the continuity of work and the implementation of women rights legislation in India.