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Socialization and Stress Explanations for Spouse Abuse

Judith A. Seltzer and Debra Kalmuss
Social Forces
Vol. 67, No. 2 (Dec., 1988), pp. 473-491
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2579191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2579191
Page Count: 19
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Socialization and Stress Explanations for Spouse Abuse
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Abstract

Childhood socialization and stressful life conditions are among the more prominent explanations for family violence. Little is known, however, about the relative importance of these factors for predicting violent behavior. This paper proposes a general scheme for studying family violence, taking into account early childhood as well as adult family socialization and stressful life events. Using data from a nationally representative sample of married adults, we investigate the relative importance of early socialization and chronic and acute life strain for predicting spouse abuse. We find that childhood experiences of family violence have a greater impact than either chronic economic strain or acutely stressful circumstances on whether individuals perpetrate spouse abuse. The paper considers the implications of these findings for understanding family violence.

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