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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Dr Stephen Burrell

Burrell, S.R. (2018). The contradictory possibilities of engaging men and boys in the prevention of men's violence against women in the UK. Journal of Gender-Based Violence 2(3): 447-464.

Author(s) from Durham


Contemporary initiatives to engage men and boys in preventing men's violence against women in the UK are modest but growing in prominence, and attracting increasing interest from policymakers. This article discusses findings from qualitative research in which expert-informant interviews were carried out with activists playing an influential role in the development of such efforts. It explores how, despite its potential, there are a number of policy obstacles facing work with men in the UK, including ongoing neoliberal austerity, the influence of 'gender neutral' conceptions of abuse, and political inertia towards prevention. In addition, the interviews highlighted some of the political contradictions that lie within work which encourages men to question their own power and privilege, and critically evaluate their own practices and those of their peers. These include the need to support rather than supersede the women's movement, simultaneously appealing to and challenging men, bringing about both individual and structural social change, and building pro-feminist engagements without diluting them. The article argues that, if these contradictions are addressed and pro-feminist equilibriums found within them, then work with men has the potential to make an important contribution as part of efforts to prevent men's violence against women in the UK.