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Title: Mechanisms of moral responsibilities: Designing and deploying digital technologies for perpetrators of domestic violence
Authors: Bellini, Rosanna Frances
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Where prevention and intervention resources should be focused to mitigate domestic violence is an important topic within academic policy and practice. While there are a range of digital tools available to support victim-survivors subject to domestic violence, no tools have been designed to challenge the abusive and harmful behaviours of perpetrators. In this thesis, I explore the experience of how existing and novel technologies used in the context of perpetrator interventions in the third sector within the United Kingdom are being leveraged to rebalance the over-responsibility society bestows on victim-survivors, along with the under-responsibility we ascribe to perpetrators. I accomplish this through developing a conceptual framework that seeks to promote spaces for design and further intervention capable of assisting such organisations in holding perpetrators responsible for their abusive behaviours and facilitating their journey of behaviour and attitude change towards non-violence. Through this work, I conceptualise the compelling moral responsibilities intrinsic to interactions with technological systems between perpetrators and support workers, which I elicit through a focused ethnography. I highlight four spaces of negotiation concerning a person’s responsibility for changing their abusive behaviour, which I refer to as ‘mechanisms’ to convey their fundamental and interconnected nature: self-awareness, acknowledging the extent of harms, providing peer support, and being accountable to demonstrate change. To further investigate these spaces for negotiation, I conducted three studies to understand the contextual dependencies of design that focuses on the responsibility of domestic violence perpetrators through: (1) the development of an interactive storytelling system to promote learning about agency and perspective-taking, (2) the design of a smartphone application to support crisis management and the prevention of physical violence, and (3) the design, deployment and evaluation of an asynchronous peer support process between two groups of perpetrators. The outcomes of this conceptual and empirical inquiry are manifold. First, I provide a detailed account of how responsibility is explored in practice between support workers and perpetrators to suggest design considerations for future systems in this context. Secondly, I provide a conceptual framework to aid researchers and designers in better navigating designing for responsibilities for violent behaviours, and outline implications for how this might be achieved. Finally, I offer a methodological and ethical ii considerations which outlines ways in which support workers and perpetrators can be actively included within the co-design of digital tools while mitigating the elevation of risk. These contributions aim to fundamentally reimagine the roles and possibilities for digital tools within domestic violence, looking beyond today’s victim-focused and security-oriented paradigms to propose a more transformative orientation focused on preventing the harm done by perpetrators.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Computing

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