‘Big G’ and ‘small g’ gender in Victoria’s family violence policy subsystem

Stream: Panel 27 - Gender Politics: Gender Based Violence 2 - Domestic and Family Violence 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Despite recent political and public interest in domestic and family violence (DFV), public debate remains heated about fundamental issues including what the problem is, who is affected and who is responsible - let alone practical matters of how exactly to fix the problem. These controversies arise because, as noted by many political and social scientists, policy problems are not value-neutral constructs that exist in the world ready to be observed, described and solved. Problem definition is political, strategic, and reflects the underlying values of political actors. In addition, actions (‘prescriptions’) to address complex policy problems are inherently bound up in problem definitions (‘diagnoses’), because how a problem is defined to a large extent dictates what is to be done about it, and which individuals or groups are the main target of these actions. This research stems from a gender and power understanding of DFV. I employ ‘critical frame analysis’ of interviews, witness statements and oral evidence to make explicit the assumptions and values behind the problem framing of policy subsystem actors involved in the work of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence, paying particular attention to the role of gender and intersectionality in actors’ framing. I will use the concept of ‘big G’ and ‘small g’ gender to explore what policy actors mean when they talk about gender and its relationship to domestic and family violence, and consider how a reframing of gender in the public discourse could reduce the reluctance of some actors to accept gendered approaches to DFV.


Sophie Yates (Presenter), ANZSOG and UNSW
Sophie Yates is a Research Fellow at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and a doctoral student at UNSW. Her research work includes the problem framing of domestic and family violence, citizen co-production of public services, and the politics/administration interface.