[4/6/20] – Sociology of COVID-19, Part 4

Stay at home orders during this time are intended to force the “flattening of the curve” we need to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Latent effects are starting to emerge. One that is particularly alarming is the rise in domestic violence calls during social isolation. As families are forced to live in isolation with one another, preexisting conflict can bubble over into full blown arguments, verbal and physical. Feeling trapped in a situation was once a metaphor used to describe feelings of captivity of domestic violence victims. Right now, this is the reality for millions of men, women and children currently forced into the duality of surviving the COVID-19 and the social isolation with their children and/or partner. This week we conclude our focused examination of the COVID-19 outbreak through the experiences of an often overlooked and dismissed population, domestic violence survivors and/or victims. We examine this issue paying close attention to Merton’s Strain Theory, deviance, and the sociology of the family.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Sociology of COVID-19, Part 4

Learning Objectives

LO1: Explain the functionalist view of the COVID-19 outbreak with regards to the manifest, latent and dysfunctions of stay at home orders.

LO2: Explain the role social factors play in creating opportunities for advantage and disadvantage relative to becoming a victim of domestic violence during social isolation.

LO3: Identify and discuss policy and program initiatives that can be implemented to address the issue of domestic violence during stay at home orders.


Surge in domestic violence in Central Indiana concerns survivors and advocates

COVID-19 is prompting a surge in domestic violence in Central Indiana, according to advocates and survivors.

How to Support Domestic Violence Survivors During COVID-19 | NowThis

The coronavirus has created a perfect storm of domestic violence conditions — here’s how you can help those who might be in danger.

Child abuse calls are down amid COVID-19, worrying child advocates

State data recently obtained by the I-team shows child abuse tips are down in Florida and child advocates are afraid that means at-risk kids could be falling through the cracks.

Discussion Questions

From a functionalist view, what are the manifest, latent, and dysfunctions of the COVID-19 outbreak that contribute to the rise in domestic violence trends? Since this is a governmental response to a biological threat, are victims of domestic violence entitled to compensation by the state if they were forced to live with someone who is physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or verbally abusive to them and/or their children?

How do social factors like race, age, gender, social class, employment status, religious background and/or affiliation and sexuality contribute to one’s potential for experiencing domestic violence? Which of these social factors do you believe has the most significant influence, and why?

Which of his five categories of responses to anomic times, that causes strain would Merton place most domestic violence survivors and perpetrators? How might the above listed social factors (and others) contribute to this response?

How does the experience of COVID-19 affect the definition of domestic violence? Where is the line between corporal punishment and domestic violence in the case of children? What form(s) of corporal punishment for adults in families exist, if any? When and where is it appropriate to deploy these reactions to deviant behavior during social isolation?

How does the experience of social isolation influence the family dynamic? What norms do people fall into? What role do emotions like paranoia and anxiety play in fueling perpetrators of domestic violence? What would an appropriate and reasonable action be to identify and prevent potential victims of domestic violence during social isolation? What services need to be provided? What programs need to exist? How will they be funded and operated?


Men are less likely to report being a victim of domestic violence. Sociologists would argue this is a result of the _______ of men, specifically that occurring in their family of orientation.
a. Gender Socialization
b. Racial Socialization
c. Social Class Socialization
d. Sexual Socialization

Which of the following is an area of this issue that micro-sociologists would be most interested in investigating?
a. Distribution of funding to victims of domestic violence by the state.
b. Formation of community sites aimed at supporting all victims of domestic violence.
c. Policy measures implemented to prevent domestic violence from occurring
d. Types of interactions that precipitate acts of domestic violence against family members.

A sociological researcher using the _______ theory as a guide would likely focus their attention on how domestic violence is a latent response to laws intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.
a. Symbolic-Interactionist
b. Conflict
c. Functionalist
d. Rational Choice

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/lolostock

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