Social representations of intimate partner violence in the South African media

SOURCE: South African Journal of Psychology
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): D.H.Isaacs
KEYWORDS: MEDIA SECTOR, PARTNER VIOLENCE, RISK BEHAVIOUR
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9019

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Abstract

South Africa has one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence in the world. The South African mass media have been recognised as playing an important role in influencing individual cognitions of social issues, including intimate partner violence. However, few studies have investigated how such violence is represented within the South African media. This article explores how the print media constructs men's perpetrated violence against female partners, attending in particular to how and to what effect extreme acts of violence are represented in data from three newspapers that attract the highest readership in the Western Cape. Guided by social representations theory, an inductive thematic analysis was conducted to identify social representations of intimate partner violence as evident in 17 articles reporting on men's perpetration of violence against intimate female partners. The analysis suggests that this form of violence is predominantly represented in terms of extreme acts of physical violence. This representation functions to reduce violence against women to a simplistic binary of male perpetration and female victimhood, undermining the complexities of this social phenomenon in South Africa. The article highlights the importance of representing intimate partner violence in a more comprehensive manner.