A Modified Institutional Ethnography of IPV Service Provision for Newcomer Women in the Halifax Regional Municipality

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Tañafranca, Manila-Vicka Pedrosa
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Although intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious issue for both new immigrants and longer-residing Canadians, intersecting inequalities proliferate the disparity immigrant women face in instances of IPV. These disparities expose newcomer women to unique vulnerabilities, posing limitations to help-seeking behaviour. From the perspective of service providers, the present research identifies the barriers newcomer women face when seeking and using IPV programs and services in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). Additionally, the research investigated the role that ideologies play in moderating the barriers to service access and utilization. Five interviews were conducted with service providers from organizations across the HRM. Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory techniques. A critical framework was adopted to identify and address the pervasive practices regulating localized experiences. Guided by the critical framework, a modified institutional ethnography (IE), focusing on the experiences of service providers, directed investigation. Utilization of an (IE) was meaningful for mapping the hidden systems of power, or ruling relations, that facilitate social inequity in cases of newcomer IPV. Through examination of ruling relations, IE attempts to display the connections between daily life, professional practice, and overarching discourses—termed texts. This is known as “textually mediated social organization” (Smith, 2005). Intersectionality arose as a recurring concept, specifically relating to the barriers newcomer women face due to their gender, immigrant status, and racialization. Core themes moderating resource access included a lack of resource awareness among immigrant women, funding and service limitations, the role of community in resource acquisition, and immigrant status. Themes of resource incongruence, men’s role in addressing IPV, and the criminalization of violence arose as central barriers surrounding the suitability of available resources. Mapping of the barriers from everyday activities to extra-local settings revealed that external texts including organizational mandates, laws and policies, criminal procedures, and immigration requirements influence local service provision. Although various ideologies emerged in the analysis, neoliberalism surfaced as an ideology that coordinated the numerous issues identified. Under neoliberalism, non-economic spheres are shaped and moderated by the discourses of the free market (Foucault, 2008). Three neoliberal processes arose as core reinforcers of existing service barriers. These include the economic regulation of immigration, the practice of austerity in service provision, and the neoliberal stance on criminalization and the justice system. Additional ideologies including patriarchy, familialism, marianism and multiculturalism emerged as interconnected with neoliberalism. These processes aid in reasserting and sustaining neoliberal goals. The implementation of neoliberal processes within localized discourses normalize and reinforce the barriers existing for newcomer women seeking IPV support. This sets the foundation for the development and implementation of policies, practices and decision surrounding newcomer service provision. Modification to current neoliberal practices would alleviate many of the existing barriers to service. Organizational expansion, through increasing staffing and immigrant-centred program offerings is valuable for providing accessible and appropriate service for newcomer populations. Extending service access to precarious status newcomers would also reduce barriers related to accessibility. Additionally, incorporating newcomer women’s voices in extra-local settings, such as government, is a valuable means of quashing existing service barriers.
Intimate partner violence, service provisions, women, Nova Scotia