For BrainstormingThe Phenomenology of Family Violence
In this brainstorming session, I am looking for insight and direction from Workshop participants.In the next year or so, I plan to prepare a book proposal on the phenomenologyof violence, and this brainstorming paper is the beginning of my attempt to put into words whatI'd like to write about. I have many questions to deal with as I think about planning a book. Inthis post-modern era, I'm confronted with what I experience as a chaotic array of choices. I don'twant to spend a lot of time and thought on a book that is outmoded as soon as it's published. Onthe other hand, my main goal is to present to interested audiences how persons who commitviolent acts experience these acts while they are committing them.
General Areas on Which I'd Like Feedback
For this brainstorming session, I would like feedback on four main areas:• Does my presentation of the dimensions of violence in this paper make sense?My presentation is unpolished, but does it make sense to first present the dimensions and thenshow how they appear in an individual life?• I often have been deeply unnerved by these subjective dimensions of violence.These leads to two questions for me:
How do I handle my own reactivity/subjectivity/reflexivity in this book?Do I talk directly and in the first person about my own reactions?
How can I present this difficult material so that other people can bear toread it? I'm afraid potential audiences will be unnerved and not read the book.• Should I illustrate a variety of ways of analyzing the material, such as throughusing analytic induction in one chapter, grounded theory in another, semiotic/discourse analysisin another, life histories in another? This would be in the spirit of post-modernism.• How do I present material that I myself do not understand? Phenomenologicalresearchers emphasize shared meanings. As Wax (1971) said, "Understanding...
is a precondition to research
" (p. 13) (italics in the text). Yet, there are some aspects of the phenomenology of violence as my informants present them to me that I simply cannot connectto. I don't get it. However, I want to present material I don't understand, not only because othersmight understand it, but such material could demonstrate how difficult violence is to understand.In this brainstorming paper, I will address each of these topics sequentially, beginningwith the dimensions of violence. The following sections are illustrations only; they are notfinished, polished products.