Criminology hosted a Joint Seminar on Masculinities, Power and Violence on Thursday 18th April

As part of the 2013 Criminology Seminar Series, the Department of Criminology were very proud to host two speakers who presented papers on their respective research on Masculinities, Power and Violence.

Susanna Eriksson is currently visting Monash University from the Graduate School of Gender Studies at Umeå University, Sweden. Susanna presented a paper entitled The Provoked Man and the Socially Well-adjusted Man: Discourses on Masculinities and Violence in the Swedish Criminal Justice System”. 

Dr Kate Seymour from Criminology and Justice Studies at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, presented a paper entitled: The Violence of Gender: Australian Policy Responses to Violence”.

Susanna Eriksson’s presentation concerned preliminary findings from a discourse analysis of written judgments from a number of Swedish criminal courts on cases of assault. The study draws on Susanna Eriksson’s PhD research which examines discourses on gender and criminality in the Swedish criminal justice system. The paper reflects on two discourses: the first regards provocation and the assumption that when men are provoked they respond with violence and the second highlights the intersections between masculinities, violence and class. In the study,,to be a socially well-adjusted man was found to be important when it came to sentencing as it resulted in more lenient punishment. This lead to a discussion on hierarchical relations between different masculinities and how different masculinities relate to violence in different ways. As these findings are still preliminary, the aim of the presentation was not so much to present results as to raise questions on such issues as masculinities, violence, law and power.

Bio: Susanna Eriksson is a doctoral candidate in criminal law at Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society and affiliated to the Graduate School of Gender Studies at Umeå University, Sweden. She has a Master of Laws degree from the Department of Law at the same university. Her research interests include criminal law, gender and law, gender and crime and feminist legal theory.

Dr Kate Seymour’s presentation explored constructions of violence, in particular the ways in which violence in constructed as a social problem in and through policy discourses and the extent to which these reflect, embed and reinforce gender(ed) discourses. Through reference to the definitions and explanations of violence that have been ‘officialised’ through their adoption in authoritative forms and arenas it discussed the ways in which the naming of some violence(s) as ‘problem violences’ enable other violences to be represented as ‘understandable’ or unremarkable and, therefore, unproblematic. She argued that gender, difference and identity, whilst key contexts for the construction, explanation, and experience of violence, are largely unacknowledged and undertheorised in current Australian (federal) policy approaches to ‘problem violence’. Dominant discourses of violence, gender and power thus enable violences to be represented as the problem of (gendered, classed, raced) ‘others’, providing a crucial means by which certain groups and behaviours are responsibilised and targeted for intervention. In contrast, a shift in focus to the violence of gender itself, as advocated here, requires asking different – and difficult – questions; questions of, rather than about, gender, difference and violence.

Bio:Kate’s background is in social work practice and management within the areas of child protection, public housing, vocational rehabilitation and (adult) correctional services. She commenced her current role as a Lecturer, Criminology and Justice Studies with Charles Sturt University in NSW in 2004. Her research interest and activity is focused on gender and violence, specifically the relationships between masculinities, power and violence. She recently completed her PhD through the School of Health & Social Development at Deakin University (Geelong, Victoria). Kate’s contact details are: