Michelle, C., & Weaver, C.K. (2003). Discursive manoeuvres and hegemonic recuperations in New Zealand documentary representations of domestic violence. Feminist Media Studies. 3(3), 283-299.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/557
This paper examines three television documentaries--entitled Not Just a Domestic (1994), Not Just a Domestic: The Update (1994), and Picking Up the Pieces (1996)--that together formed part of the New Zealand police ‘Family Violence’ media campaign. Through a Foucauldian, feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis, the paper examines how these texts assert and privilege particular understandings of domestic violence, its causes, effects and possible solutions. The analysis illustrates the way in which five discursive explanations of domestic violence--those of medical pathology, romantic expressive tension, liberal humanist instrumentalism, tabula rasa learning and socio-systematic discourse--are articulated and hierarchically organised within these documentaries, and considers the potential hegemonic effects of each text’s discursive negotiations. It is argued that the centrality of personal ‘case studies’ and the testimonies of both battered women and formerly violent men work to privilege individualistic rather than socio-political explanations of domestic violence. Additionally, the inclusion of extensive ‘survivor speech’ means that women are frequently asked to explain and rationalize their actions as ‘victims’ of domestic violence, while fewer demands are placed on male perpetrators to account for their violent behaviour. Consequently, the documentaries leave the issue of male abuse of power largely unchallenged, and in this way ultimately affirm patriarchal hegemonic interests.
This is the submitted version of an article published in the journal: Feminist Media Studies. (c) 2003 Taylor & Francis Group.