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Portuguese women's responses to domestic violence in England : a socio-legal analysis

Graça, Ana Sofia Grilo Carapeto (2013) Portuguese women's responses to domestic violence in England : a socio-legal analysis. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94380) (KAR id:94380)

Language: English

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This dissertation explores Portuguese women’s invocation of law in situations of domestic violence in England. Despite the existence of studies on minority ethnic women’s invocation of law and on the Portuguese population in England, there is no published research on Portuguese women’s invocation of law in situations of domestic violence. The dissertation seeks to address this gap in knowledge, using socio-legal theories of the invocation of law, theories of legal consciousness and interviews with Portuguese women living in England.

Although theories of legal consciousness are not unproblematic, they permit the development of a framework of analysis that puts culture at the centre of women's subjective understanding of the law. They do so by analysing legality as the result of a combination of schemas and resources. The central schema for this dissertation is Portuguese culture, which results from a number of historical and political circumstances, such as the sustained promotion of women’s domesticity and the lack of a strong feminist movement. The influence of culture on Portuguese women’s invocation of law becomes clearer when articulated with an analysis of the resources available to them, such as language proficiency, levels of education and economic independence. The dissertation also includes an analysis of women’s experiences and expectations of service providers, as the distinction between the perceived usefulness of some services in comparison to others, such as between the police and victim support services, also impacts on women’s invocation of law.

The dissertation concludes that Portuguese women’s invocation of law is complex, but with a clear preference for using informal mechanisms to address domestic violence. This has consequences for the development of practical ways of helping Portuguese women living in England deal with domestic violence, and informs the recommendation made in the final chapter of the dissertation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94380
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 11:07 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 11:07 UTC
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