Sociology interpersonal abuse

Sociology of Interpersonal Abuse
Assessment guide for Term 2
CONTENT: OBVIOUSLY, THIS ASSESSMENT GUIDE IS ABOUT THE ASSESSMENT FOR TERM 2 OF THIS MODULE; BE AWARE THAT IT CONTAINS SOME EXAMPLES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (IN THIS BLUE COLOUR, SO YOU CAN SEE THEM EASILY), AND A RANGE OF SUGGESTED REPORT QUESTIONS, SOME OF WHICH MAY NOT FEEL RIGHT FOR SOME PEOPLE (ALSO MARKED IN BLUE.)
PLEASE ENSURE YOU READ THIS DOCUMENT IN FULL BEFORE COMMENCING YOUR REPORTS FOR TERM 2; GO BACK AND REVIEW YOUR FEEDBACK FOR TERM 1, TOO – EVEN IF YOU GOT A HIGH MARK, YOU CAN STILL IMPROVE.
*DO BE AWARE THAT TERM 1 WAS AN ESSAY AND TERM 2 IS A REPORT – ALBEIT A ‘LIGHT TOUCH’ STYLE OF REPORT APPROPRIATE TO THE FOCUS OF THIS MODULE – AND THAT AS SUCH THERE WILL BE SOME DIFFERENCES IN EXPECTATIONS THIS TERM, IN TERMS OF CONTENT AND STYLE. MORE DETAILS ARE GIVEN BELOW, BUT ESSENTIALLY THEY CAN BE ENCAPSULATED AS:
1. FRAME YOUR WORK AS AN INVESTIGATION OF A TOPIC AREA.
2. STYLE – USE HEADINGS AND SUBHEADINGS IN YOUR WORK (DIAGRAMS, TABLES, ILLUSTRATIONS AND FIGURES IF APPROPRIATE).
3. CONTENT – MAKE PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON YOUR WORK.
2,000 words (+/- 10%, so no more than 2,200 words; please put the word count at the end of your report; the word count does not include the reference list – no bibliography [i.e. list of works read but not referenced] is required).
See NOW news items for the deadline date – please put it in your diary.
Submit to the NOW drop-box only (no paper submissions). You can resubmit any time you like up until the deadline – I will read only the final submission before the deadline.
If you need extra time via an NEC, please submit an NEC online or contact your NEC co-ordinator if you need some advice first
PROMPT Feedback will be available via NOW (3-week turnaround)
The module is internally moderated (i.e. a sample is read by another member of staff); and a sample is sent to the External Examiner for Sociology.

Learning outcomes: In the assessments for this module you are expected to:

Knowledge and understanding:
1/Engage knowledgeably in debates relevant to the analysis of the dynamics of interpersonal abuse in contemporary society – using appropriate perspectives, concepts and theories
2/Engage knowledgeably in debates relevant to disrupting the taken-for-granted nature of interpersonal abuse
3/Critically evaluate how social and cultural forces, contexts and processes impact upon oppression and resistance in a range of settings
4/Critically review, consolidate and extend coherent bodies of knowledge relating to the complex issue of interpersonal abuse

Skills, qualities and attributes:
1/Evaluate critically and synthesise information and evidence from diverse sources – both academic and activist – using IT tools
2/Apply diagnostic, analytical and creative skills and judgement, in order to make and present reasoned arguments about highly sensitive issues
3/Communicate effectively in writing
4/Accept responsibility in determining and achieving contributions to understanding of interpersonal abuse
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Based on these learning outcomes the assessment criteria for Term 2/3, against which your work will be assessed, are as follows:

1/Read widely in a selected field of domestic violence and use this reading in your work
2/Write a critical analysis of a selected aspect of domestic violence
3/ Write a contextual analysis of your selected aspect of domestic violence
4/Challenge the taken-for-granted nature of domestic violence – including writing a recommendations section
5/Write effectively – including using headings and subheadings effectively (diagrams, figures, illustrations and tables as appropriate)
6/Demonstrate recognition of the sensitivity of domestic violence

How might you demonstrate your abilities in each of these regards?
1/Read widely in a selected field of domestic violence and use this reading in your work – Make sure each point you make is fully supported (so, have a citation after it; one citation at the end of a long paragraph is not enough; each point needs supporting), and with relevant literature (avoid random internet items, the Daily Mail [unless you are writing a critique of the Daily Mail], Wikipedia, obscure journals from the US in the 1970s [unless the report is about the US in the 1970s]). Avoid overuse of the same book/article throughout. Read widely – start with the reading guide and the online reading list and then explore other materials (perhaps items from a key reading’s reference list or by reading work by a particular author). Choose key quotes from your material, or paraphrase key points (the latter will help if you’re overshooting the word count). Polish and edit your work to make space for a range of arguments (the ‘but I didn’t have space to talk about x’ argument doesn’t work; you can polish and edit down your work and cover what you need to cover. If you’re finding you can’t do what you need to do in the words allowed, maybe your question needs some refinement; I’m happy to talk with you about this). The more you read the more material you have to explore and consider. This is a final year module which might lead you to considering postgraduate work in any of the fields it covers, so it is an ideal opportunity to try for the best grade possible. If you want my suggestion, I’d say at least 30 separate items would be a good start. If you didn’t get the mark you hoped for in term 1, part of an answer is likely to be reading much more for term 2. I have suggested to people who want to do better, that they look at what they read for a piece they didn’t get the mark they hoped for on, and then double that reading for their next assignment. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read widely and relevantly, particularly when you are working towards your final degree classification.
2/Write a critical analysis of a selected aspect of domestic violence – Descriptive work – that says who said what and takes good quotes from it rarely gets more than a 2.2. You need to be analytical. Maybe start by looking at something you really disagree with or really agree with. Read round that issue more widely, find out what others think, see if you agree/disagree with them, and see if their work can help you develop a different argument. Developing your own opinion, supported by literature, is a way to a good mark. Sometimes people think they need to have an opinion and then find other people who think the same – you might find people who think the same, certainly, but that takes the fun out of researching in your field and thinking through the arguments you’re finding. It will also be quite tedious to do, something of a hit or miss activity. Instead, see the development of the argument as something that evolves as you read more. If you’re looking for first class marks, you need to be offering not just great reading and analysis, but something a bit different – an approach, an argument, a choice of authors for instance – that leads you to be offering something extra. Look through published work and identify what it is that the authors did that feels different – how did they explain what they did so that it really conveyed how important it was for their work to be published? Sometimes people want to write reports about areas on which not much has been published and this can form part of your argument for writing in this area, but it isn’t a reason for not including much literature – so, if, for instance, you want to write about how police officers may be abusive towards their partners, but there is not much literature about that specific area, your job is to really interrogate the nature of being in the police service, to really read round material on that topic, so you can contextualise what you do know about abusive police officers with material explaining what it is like to be in the police.
3/ Write a contextual analysis of your selected aspect of domestic violence – Nothing happens in a vacuum. For example, if you are writing about domestic violence in connection with sexuality, be clear throughout your report that there is a context for how gay men, for instance, feel they can respond when they encounter domestic violence and that context is homophobic society, how homophobic society is structured to make many gay men fear the repercussions of being ‘outed’ and how this plays into the hands of an abuser who wants their partner to keep quiet. Never give the impression that domestic violence is separate from the rest of society – it is caused by it, it happens in it, and it is responded to (or more often not responded to) in that context. Responding to this learning outcome may take you beyond material on domestic violence (here, for instance, you’d be writing about sexuality and homophobia), so make sure you make sound links between further material and the main purpose of your report (which is to be writing about domestic violence). Keep the question in mind at all times. Put it on a post-it note above your desk if that might help.
4/Challenge the taken-for-granted nature of domestic violence – including writing a ‘recommendations’ section. The current situation (seen through reports such as the HMIC report on how the police respond to domestic violence) is how it is now; and there certainly is cause for a lot of pessimism, but working in this field is about saying that it can be different, it doesn’t need to be like that. #MeToo draws upon domestic violence, as sexual violence can be part of domestic violence. Studying domestic violence in a module is one way of being political. You had at least one other choice of module, but you chose this. Take the opportunity to talk about how things might be different, and make that explicit in your work. You might want to talk about the efforts of a particular organisation or person to make a difference, or how developments in relation to coercive control have been helpful. Really embed the idea that you’re angry about how things are and that change is possible, into the report.
*A report is not the same as an essay: you are required to add a recommendations section at the end (you might want to say how your work might influence the work of an organisation like Women’s Aid, the government, domestic violence perpetrators, those encountering domestic violence…). This section is envisaged at around 200 words (it may be more or less, there is no set word count for this section of your work but it should not detract from the main focus of the work – which is your own choice of question – and you are not required to provide a word count for this section).
5/Write effectively – including using headings and subheadings effectively (diagrams, figures, illustrations and tables as appropriate)
This piece of work – unlike term 1’s essay – is a report.
*A report is not the same as an essay: it is a requirement that you break up your work with headings and subheadings (which can be descriptive and straightforward or more creative and intriguing, or a mixture of both, it is up to you to see what will work for you in this piece of work). If it works for your piece of work, you may choose to use diagrams, tables, illustrations and figures, but there is no requirement that you use diagrams, tables, illustrations and figures if it does not fit with what you are doing.
Give yourself plenty of time to polish and edit your work to make it the best standard you can. Look back at feedback you’ve had before and act on it. Ask for advice – I will look at an introduction for you.
Having mentioned the introduction, I will say very clearly here again that pieces of work that come without an introduction never achieve the marks their writers hoped for. If you fell into the ‘no introduction’ trap last time, take the opportunity to improve matters this time.
Please be aware that an introduction is NOT just a few random points about your topic, tacked on when you’ve finished. Here’s an example of how this looks (I’m making it sound worse than it is, but this is the gist of what’s usually offered by people who do introductions like this, getting them wrong):
“There’s a lot of domestic violence about, it’s existed for a long time, I define domestic violence like this (usually with an online dictionary), and this paper hopes to analyse domestic violence and come to a conclusion about why it happens”.
Please be fully aware that that’s WRONG.
An introduction is a substantial first paragraph that is very explicit about what’s going to be in the report and why, and what the argument is going to be. It explains why the report is in the order it is in – it creates a logical flow of the report right from the start. It works as a signpost for the reader, explaining what is coming next. If you don’t provide it, then markers don’t know what the report is for. You need to be making this clear to achieve to your best standard.
If you write your introduction and feel you haven’t demonstrated a logical flow through your report, there’s something wrong. It might be that a particular paragraph is in the wrong place and once you’ve moved it and made the new order clear in the introduction everything will be better. Don’t write your introduction once, before starting, or add it at the end and then hope for the best. The introduction needs continual revision throughout the writing period, as does the rest of the report, because your ideas will develop as you are writing and you need to reflect that in your signposting.
6/Demonstrate recognition of the sensitivity of domestic violence – Reports that come up with arguments that ‘it’s worse for [insert a ‘group’ here, such as men/women/transgender/gay men/lesbians etc]’ (how can we ever know who it is ‘worst’ for? What does it mean for other ‘groups’ (and why are people in ‘groups’ anyway) if we make that argument?), that ‘some people bring it on themselves’ (they don’t, domestic violence is caused by perpetrators making a choice to be violent to a person) or which use terminology that is insensitive, such as relentlessly and for no specified reason always using the term ‘victims’ when ‘survivors’ makes more sense in the argument you’re making, or ‘victim-survivors’ seems more appropriate, will not fulfil this requirement. You may think you won’t do this, but sometimes people do get very passionate about an area, and they want to show how unfair it is that some people don’t get the resources they might have, and they fall into a comparison that ends up stating something like ‘these people don’t get help because these people are getting it’ (usually, with relation to domestic violence something about men and refuge spaces that implies that refuge spaces are in unlimited supply for women). You will know by the time you’re engaging fully in the module that no-one gets what they need in this area; that comparisons are actually futile; what matters is to explore the different dynamics for different people, not to compare different people and find one ‘group’ higher in a hierarchy than another. Hierarchies don’t work in this field. Overall, think carefully about the implications of your writing. At dissertation level, people often claim that because they’re doing theoretical work, ‘ethics aren’t involved’, but actually ethics are involved everywhere. Work in a field like this is activism, even if you’re not going out and immediately campaigning on a topic. You’re writing about real people, and real experiences that happen every day, that can have immense impacts, and you need to be thinking about this all the time you are writing, asking yourself, how sensitive am I being? Am I writing about this as if it is a less emotive topic? What can I do differently? Sometimes this can be as simple as checking your use of ‘them’ of ‘these men’ (‘othering’ language) – it’s much more appropriate to simply say ‘men’ or ‘men who have experienced…’ (for example).
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Writing your report to meet the assessment criteria
For this term, you again choose your own question to investigate, in line with your own developing interests in this field, and possibly your career intentions. Here are some titles people used last year and some other suggestions. They are not meant to constrain you. (As the style of the assessment is now a report rather than an essay, framing your question in terms of ‘investigating’ a topic is appropriate [although it does not mean carrying out research with research participants]).