Revisiting and Reassessing Conventional Wisdom: Attitudes About Domestic Violence in Rural and Urban Communities

Alissa Pollitz Worden, University at Albany
Bonnie E. Carlson, University at Albany

Researchers on domestic violence have only begun to examine the broader social contexts in which violence takes place, and in particular, have yet to systematically examine the role of public attitudes and beliefs in both formal and informal social control. The research presented in this paper explores conventional wisdom about the attitudes of rural and urban community members. Residents of rural areas are often characterized as patriarchal, tolerant of violence, uninformed about causes of violence and about law, and distrustful of official interventions in personal problems, including family violence. However, there is little empirical data to support these assumptions. This study, which is based on a survey of residents in six diverse communities, tests these conventional wisdom propositions, taking into account alternative explanations for variability in attitudes and beliefs.

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Updated 05/20/2006