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"An Amplified Space": A feminist poststructuralist analysis of sexual violence at university

Atkinson, K (2020) "An Amplified Space": A feminist poststructuralist analysis of sexual violence at university. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The research took place at one university in the North West of England with the purpose of exploring women students’ experiences of sexual violence whilst at university, the impact of these experiences and the role of the institution in responding to this violence. In order to address the aims of the thesis, a feminist poststructuralist approach was taken which highlights the social construction of historically and contextually contingent gendered subjectivities through dominant discourses on gender and (hetero)sex. This approach allowed for an exploration of the dominant discourses on sexual violence and the subsequent ‘truth’ that was constructed within the university about the nature and extent of sexual violence in the institution. To achieve the aims of the thesis, a mixed methods approach was undertaken. Firstly, an online survey was disseminated to women students at the institution, resulting in 144 responses. Secondly, interviews with five students who had experienced sexual violence whilst at the university were undertaken. Finally, interviews with five stakeholders who were responsible, in various ways, for preventing and responding to sexual violence in the university were conducted. The thesis found that the harms and effects of sexual violence were multiple, layered and extended beyond the dominant, yet limited discourse surrounding this violence. It is argued that violence experienced by the students transformed their subjectivities, a process which was further impacted by the institutional response. Whilst discourses of gender and (hetero)sex shaped the context, experience and (non)response to sexual violence, the institutional deployment of gendered and neoliberal discourses, alongside dominant discourses of ‘fun’ university life, amplify these experiences and their harmful effects. Overall, the findings suggest there is a need to radically rethink the policies which have so far dominated institutional responses and, therefore, several suggestions are developed. These suggestions address and outline the role and responsibility of institutions to transform their limited approach to the issue and radically transform the current situation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sexual Violence; Gender; Feminist Poststructuralism; Violence against Women
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Justice Studies (new Sep 19)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 11:01
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2020 11:01
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00014138
Supervisors: Monk, H
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14138

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