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Labour & Industry: A journal of the social and economic relations of work
For a Special Issue on
Domestic Violence and Work: Theory, Policy and Practice
29 October 2021
Domestic Violence and Work: Theory, Policy and Practice
This special issue invites papers that explore domestic violence and work. Domestic violence is a gendered social issue interconnected with other social, cultural, and economic inequalities. Workplaces are increasingly recognised as having a vital role in supporting victims and offering novel industrial opportunities to redress the harms of domestic violence. At the same time, however, the analysis of the intersection between domestic violence and work must recognise that the inequalities of gendered violence are linked to, and are reproduced, across institutional domains, including the economy, politics, and civil society (Walby, 2020). Workplaces, for example, are well-known sites for gender and economic inequalities. Accordingly, other industrial issues such as the gender pay gap or precarious work are interconnected with domestic violence. This special issue considers the relationship between domestic violence and work as well as interrogating how the industrial context can compound or undo inequalities which underpin domestic violence.
Domestic violence is internationally acknowledged to be a widespread, devastating social issue underpinned by gender inequality (World Health Organisation, 2009). Activists and scholars have additionally made a strong case that an intersectional approach is vital as the experience of domestic violence and the institutional response is shaped by race, sexuality, and class (etc) as well as gender (Fluri and Piedalue, 2017). Domestic violence is, then, intertwined with our identities as well as social and institutional power. Accordingly, ending domestic violence requires a whole of society approach. Only in recent decades, however, have workplaces become situated as having a role in this collective response (Weatherall et al., 2021). In some countries, such as Aotearoa New Zealand, this role has been codified in legislation for paid leave and flexible working arrangements. In many other contexts, workplace domestic violence support is often unpaid or missing entirely. Nevertheless, a growing number of workplaces go beyond minimum requirements, citing both a moral imperative to support victims (de Jonge, 2018) and a business imperative to minimize the massive financial costs of domestic violence (Kahui et al., 2014).
The business and the moral cases for workplace responsibility sit uncomfortably with one another. On the one hand, workplaces offer novel industrial opportunities to further education about the realties of violence and redress the effects and causes of domestic violence. Workplace domestic violence policies can offer sometimes life-saving access to healthcare, legal advice, and changes to living arrangements as well as economic security (McFerran, 2010). If implemented effectively, such policies can be part of a whole-of-organisation initiative to redress gender inequality or part of broader employee well-being or CSR initiatives. On the other hand, workplaces and the labour market frequently reinforce gendered (and other) inequalities (Rubery and Hebson, 2018) which compound domestic violence. Crucially, workplaces themselves must be recognized as gendered (Wajcman, 2000) and part of gender regimes which cut across economy, polity, civil society, and institutionalized violence (Walby, 2020). The role of workplaces must therefore be situated within a multi-lateral approach to fully appreciate or imagine the possibilities of redressing violence in and through organisations.
The industrial response to domestic violence remains in its infancy globally and international standards have yet to be widely adopted and implemented (International Labour Organisation, 2019). While evidence demonstrates that workplaces can play an important role (MacGregor et al., 2019), the extent and shape of this role is nascent and scholarly knowledge of the subject remains scarce. Scholars and practitioners have an opportunity to conceptualize the relationship between domestic violence and workplaces in a way that opens novel industrial pathways to social change. Such work must consider the connections between the gendered, socio-political nature of domestic violence and the industrial conditions necessary to achieve the gender equity objectives underpinning workplace domestic violence support.
Topics may include the following themes (but are not restricted to):
- Conceptualisation of domestic violence and workplaces: In what ways does gender inequality shape how domestic violence is conceptualised as a workplace issue? How can different theoretical frameworks (such as intersectionality) develop our understanding of the interconnection of domestic violence and work? How do workplace actors and institutions (e.g. line managers, HR practitioners, trade unions) conceptualise their responsibility for domestic violence and act on this? How does the conceptualisation of the ‘business case’ and ‘moral case’ shape workplace and institutional responses to domestic violence? How do different positionings of domestic violence, such as part of CSR or well-being initiatives, shape how it is understood as a workplace issue?
- Identity and domestic violence: How does the ‘gendered character of work itself’ shape workplace responses to domestic violence? Women are the overwhelming victims of violence – how does domestic violence intersect with other workplace gender equality issues? How does the experience of violence and workplace differ between women? e.g., ethnic minority women versus white professional women. How do intersecting inequalities, such as sexism and heterosexism or racism, impact victims of violence in seeking and receiving support from workplaces? How can disclosure processes effectively support the needs of different victims (e.g., LGBT+, migrant/refugee, religion)?
- Domestic violence and Covid-19: What is the impact on victims when ‘the home’ is not a safe space for work? How can we understand the impact through a social, economic, psychological, and/or physical lens? How have governments, businesses, communities, and individuals responded to domestic violence when citizens are mandated or encouraged to work from home? How do concepts of public and private mediate the implementation of domestic violence policies?
- Types of work and domestic violence: Does the type of work (e.g. full-time, part-time, casual, contractual, seasonal, gig) shape workplace responses to domestic violence? If so, how? How does the creation and implementation of workplace domestic violence policies vary between public, private, and third sector organisations or between industries? What possibilities and limitations face family-owned businesses and/or SMEs in supporting victims of violence?
- Implementation of policies: What is the role of trade unions and other stakeholders/parties in developing and implementing workplace domestic violence policies? How can workplace training for domestic violence help achieve gender equality objectives? What role do HR managers play in DV policy implementation? How could the concepts of voice and silence help us to better understand the interconnection of domestic violence and work? What safeguards are necessary to ensure that current provisions protect victims at work? What insights can a multi-lateral approach offer us for understanding how the implementation of workplace policies is connected to other institutions (economic, political, and civil society)?
All methodological approaches are welcome – conceptual, empirical/theoretical papers, case studies, and research notes.
Given the sensitive nature of the topic and the potential vulnerability of participants, contributors are encouraged to contact the guest editors to discuss the suitability of their work for this issue.
We particularly welcome insights from practitioners, policy analysts, unionists, and activists undertaking work or research in this area.
- Papers submitted – October 29, 2021
- Authors receive first round of feedback – December, 2021
- Authors submit revised papers – March, 2022
- Authors receive second round of feedback – April, 2022
- All papers complete – June, 2022
- Introduction – July, 2022
- Publication – August, 2022
Types of Papers
- Full research paper
- Research Insights
If you any questions about the special issue, please contact the special issue editors. For any queries regarding the submission process, please contact the Labour and Industry Systems Manager, Jane Halteh at [email protected]
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