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socioeconomic status and intergenerational violence
"Domestic violence is widespread in poor neighbourhoods" is a well-known assertion. Indeed, it is often firmly believed that poverty gives rise to many evils, one of them being violence between intimate partners. However, a review of the literature on the topic edited during the last decade allows one to notice that all scholars are far from sharing this view, particularly when it comes to establish a link of causality between low socioeconomic statuses, on the one hand, and the emergence and permanence of intergenerational violence, on the other. Conclusions could be drawn in addressing the subsequent question: to what extent research on intergenerational transmission of violence (IGT) during the closing decade has considered the belonging to a low socioeconomic status as a catalyst for the emergence or permanence of intergenerational violence? The following discussion espouses the viewpoint of evolutionary psychology and focuses on different aspects of this issue associated with heterosexual couples living in the USA.
On the one hand, domestic violence has seemingly been widespread in low-income families. The adverse economic conditions experienced by men who display the lowest economic statuses put these men at risk of seeing their female partners searching for male partners who can contribute to fulfil their economic requirements. This thesis is supported by the research carried out by Sanders and Schnabel (2006) expounding why "economic dependency in women and emotional dependency in men independently contribute to domestic-partner abuse risk" and the research conducted by Bornstein (2006) explicating why abused women remain or even return with their abuser due to their economic dependency. The delicate nature of such situations is so stressful that some men may tend to utilize violence as a preventive or punitive means for preventing female infidelity that could emerge. Indeed, frustration generated by the repression of one's desires to provide for one's family make some men feel vulnerable comparatively with more wealthy males. That irritation provokes so high level of anger that they cannot restrain themselves thanks to cultural inhibitors learnt during childhood to cope with stress like the great majority of men. Consequently, this hypothesis highlights that some males are particularly exposed to the use of aggressive behaviours, which are customarily rejected in the American society nowadays, because of psychopathological deficiencies preventing them from coping with such explosive contexts. Research of Cunradi, Caetano, and Schafer (2002) in addition to the research carried out by Anonymous (2005) may be used to buttress the argument that a low socioeconomic status contributes to augment women's exposition to abuse from their male partners whatever the ethnic origin of the partners, which tends to establish that this characteristic does not depend on their ethnicity. Therefore, those conclusions support the contention that domestic violence of male partners towards their female partners is a deviant form of the ontogenic characteristic of "male proprietariness" of the males of the Homo sapiens sapiens species. Moreover, this evolutionary psychology assumption could explain why sexual aggression is so often present with high level of physical assaults. Actually, sexual assaults may be the ultimate means to express one's manhood when physical aggression does not produce the expected effect of coercion.
On the other hand, violence between intimate partners has also been present between members of low-income families. Consequently, one could argue that domestic violence is by no means triggered off or sustained by the families' appurtenance to the lowest socioeconomic categories. Therefore, one could estimate that violence between partners is the result of micro-level rather than macro-level factors. That assumption is supported by Newby, McCarroll, Thayer, Norwood, Fullerton, and Ursano (2000) who claim that socioeconomic status is an improbable reason for explaining the prevalence of spouse abuse in addition to Bauer, Rodríguez, and Pérez-Stable (2000) who state that the occurrence of violence between partners cannot be distinguished "by education, employment, or medical insurance status of the women". One could argue that this is not surprising because high socioeconomic status males may certainly not feel the same frustration that their poorer congeners since they do not feel vulnerable thanks to their economic capacity to support their families. However, since domestic violence still remains evidenced indifferently of the socioeconomic status, one could also contend that factors such as the isolation of female partners and feelings of possession or jealousy experienced by male partners seem more conspicuous arguments to explain this phenomenon in more affluent families. That thesis is supported by Moe and Bell (2004) who claim that the more a woman is battered, the more difficulties she has to find a job or preserve her professional career. Consequently, individuals' socioeconomic status is not automatically a cause of the emergence of violence in their households but could simply be one of the many consequences brought about by spouse abuse. Accordingly, those conclusions back the contention that domestic violence of male partners towards their female partners is the deviant form of the ontogenic characteristic of "male proprietariness" of the Homo sapiens sapiens species.
Finally, the research conducted by Bornstein (2006) shed an interesting light on the connections that can be established between individuals' socioeconomic status and intergenerational violence within families. According to Bornstein (2006), the keystone allowing one to apprehend the reasons that lead to the emergence and continuation of domestic violence is the relations of dependency between male and female partners. Indeed, Bornstein (2006) bolsters the evolutionary psychology perspective assuming that women experience an economic dependency towards their male partners while men experience an emotional dependency towards their female partners. Consequently, what is of great importance to understand why males come to employ physical and sexual assaults is that one should considerer what may happen when dependency relations are unbalanced. Low-income families are undeniably more at risk to engage in violence between intimate partners but a more crucial point seems to be the way according to men and women perceive their own socioeconomic status and their partners' socioeconomic status. Actually, if an executive woman (high socioeconomic status) feels that she could find a male partner with a socioeconomic status even better than the one of her male, she may search for a lover that would arouse jealousy in her current partner and then domestic violence, regardless of the couple's socioeconomic status. That assumption is more credible when the woman does not benefit from a high socioeconomic status, for instance when she is a homemaker or a kept woman. Therefore, it seems that the emergence and continuation of domestic violence is (albeit it may sound flabbergasting at first sight) a gesture of love from some men, namely because these males physically and sexually abuse their female partners because they love their female partners and do not abide the idea that their female partners could leave them. Furthermore, it also seems that the trigger of domestic violence is not the socioeconomic status of the individuals within a couple per se but rather the actual men's perception that they female partners could leave them due to their "insufficient" socioeconomic status, in addition to the alleged women's perception that they could find "socioeconomically desirable" male partners. That hypothesis is backed by the study of Workman and Reader (2004) who emphasize the importance of the socioeconomic status as a selective agents used by women all over the world to choose their potential male partners.
Consequently, that study clearly highlights the fact that research carried out during the last decade, some of them having been utilized to buttress the argumentation of this essay, has recently led to the emergence of theories based on micro-level factors distinguishable in all human beings whatever their biological or cultural backgrounds. Namely, these concepts not only refine the paradigm of evolutionary psychology but also introduce evolutionary psychology as a theoretical framework integrating the many diverse sub-disciplines within psychology into a unitary whole rather than creating another separate sub-discipline within psychology. Finally, regardless of the huge amount of already existent academic research, the nature of the Homo sapiens sapiens species is still far from being well understood because human behaviour retains unexplored or misunderstood concepts.