Journal Article

Narrating Love and Abuse in Intimate Relationships

Heather Fraser

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 3, pages 273-290
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/33.3.273
Narrating Love and Abuse in Intimate Relationships

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In this article, I use discourse analysis to explore the relationship between love and abuse. I argue that Anglo‐American social work has been reticent to theorize love; and that when it does, the borders separating love from abuse are usually assumed to be relatively stable and readily apparent. After nominating some of the reasons for and repercussions of dichotomizing love and abuse, I suggest that knowledge about intimate abuse will expand if more attention is given to the study of love. I promote the use of feminist discourses because they provide valuable insights about the operations of power in love relationships. Drawing ideas from both structural feminism and post‐structural feminism, I encourage social workers to move their analytical attention back and forth between the micro‐politics of intimate relationships to the wider cultural contexts within which they are staged. I conclude with the assertion that social workers will be better placed to understand the dilemmas that many ‘ordinary’ women confront in their everyday lives, if they critically analyse the intersections of love and abuse.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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