The claim is often voiced that wife abuse is a problem that "cuts across" all social and economic lines. Yet there is considerable research evidence suggesting an inverse relationship between wife abuse and the socioeconomic status of both victims and perpetrators. The question of the relevance of social class has generally been construed as a factual one, in principle resolvable by collecting more and better data. Doing a participant observation study of a treatment programme for men who batter, I was forced to bracket the "objective," empirical question, but freed to see how certain ideological practices worked to keep class seen-but-unnoticed. The abstract terms and categories of the dominant discourse of abuse were deployed in ways that subsumed and subdued the men's own experiences of themselves and their lives. In this way the particular local setting was bound to the relations of ruling of patriarchal capitalism. The approaches of "peacemaking criminology" and "restorative justice" offer possibilities for alternative, more effective responses to men's violence against women.

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