Karen Rosenberg. “From moderate chastisement to mandatory arrest: Responses to violence against women in Canada and the United States.” Diss. U of Washington, 2008.
This dissertation examines the relationship between political economic processes and responses to violence against women in order to gain a deeper understanding of feminist activist calls to find alternatives to criminalization. Drawing on Dorothy Smith's institutional ethnography and Nancy Naples' feminist materialist discourse analysis, I show how discursive commitments to liberalism in the 18th and 19th centuries and neoliberalism since the 1980s have shaped state and activist responses to violence against women. Incorporating a case study focusing on Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington, I analyze interviews with feminist activists in order to better understand discourse around criminalization of violence against women. I find that whereas US feminist activists articulate a strong critique of criminalization, their counterparts in Vancouver seek a more robust criminalization response. Although these claims appear to be opposed, I argue that they can each be understood as resisting local forms of neoliberal governance.