The Politics of Surviving: How Women Navigate Domestic Violence and Its Aftermath

Regular price $ 29.95

by Paige L. Sweet

University of California Press

11/09/2021, paperback

SKU: 9780520377714


A trauma revolution is quietly sweeping social services in the United States. For women who have experienced domestic violence, proving that you are a "good victim" is no longer enough when navigating these institutions. Women must also show that they are recovering, as if domestic violence were a disease: they must show that they are transforming from "victims" into "survivors."

Through archival research, life story interviews, and participation observation, The Politics of Surviving shows that "becoming" a survivor is full of contradictions, perils, politics, and pleasures. Using an intersectional lens, Paige L. Sweet reveals how the idea of "resilience" and being a "survivor" can become a coercive force in women's lives.

With nuance and compassion, The Politics of Surviving wrestles with questions about the gendered nature of the welfare state, the unintended consequences of feminist mobilizations for these programs, and the women who are left behind by the limited forms of citizenship we offer them.


"A beautifully written and carefully crafted analysis of the politics of domestic violence treatment and survivorhood. Through the construct of 'traumatic citizenship,' it reveals how gender, race, class, and sexuality all become intertwined in therapeutic state practice -- and offers a model of intersectional analysis and theory building." -- Lynne Haney, Professor of Sociology, New York University

"To accommodate the Liberal Democratic Regimes of the 1990's, the Shelter Movement in the U.S. transformed the victimization and survival of abused women from stages in their experience of recovery into facets of performance needed to access citizenship, including the racialized tropes of respectable motherhood. A shout from post-modern sociology based in first-hand accounts from the trenches. A Tour de Force." -- Evan Stark (PhD, MS) Author of Coercive Control 

 "The Politics of Surviving shines new light on studies of domestic violence, making critical contributions to the scholarship of the neoliberal and the "therapeutic state" and feminism, and the relationship between the state and feminist movements, citizenship, and the scholarship on violence in the lives of women. I highly recommend this path-breaking book." -- Cecilia Menjívar, author of Enduring Violence

"Sweet resists easy tropes of the heroic survivor or of the downfall of a pure utopian feminism. Her account is nuanced, sensitive, and sophisticated. This groundbreaking book will be a must-read for those interested in state violence, intersectionality, gender-based violence, and gender and sexuality."  -- Elizabeth A Armstrong, coauthor of Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality

About the Author:

Paige L. Sweet is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan.