Q&A: Victim Blaming

A question from my Tumblr follower, hommedelamachine:

Hi there, would you happen to know where I can find a good definition of victim blaming, be it online or a book.

Hey hommedelamachine. It depends on what you’re studying. William Ryan popularised the term of ‘blaming the victim’ with respect to how poor people are blamed for their poor health outcomes, so you might like to start there. Essentially, this phrase is about ignoring how societal structures disadvantage specific groups of disempowered people. Blaming the victim makes individuals the scapegoats for broader structural problems of class, gender, sexuality, race and so on. I talked about blaming the victims of sexual harassment and gender violence in India and around the world in my research blog. I have extra references in the comments section that may be useful. If you’re interested in analysing domestic violence, it’s worth checking out research that unpacks how victims are defined. See Bess Rothenberg’s paper ‘The Success of the Battered Woman Syndrome’ and Jennifer Dunn’s ‘“Victims” and “Survivors”’ paper in Sociological Inquiry. If you’re interested in ‘victimology’, read something from the sociology of crime.

On my research blog I previously focused on media abuse of crime victims. Labelling theory and sociology of deviance would also be good places to research. Hope all that helps.

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