Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Critical Studies in Education


Taylor & Francis


School of Education




Education University of Hong


Saltmarsh, S., Ayre, K., & Tualaulelei, E. (2022). Schools, separating parents and family violence: A case study of the coercion of organisational networks. Critical Studies in Education, 63(4), 516-533.


This paper considers how complex family circumstances such as parental separation, custody disputes and family violence intersect with the organisational cultures and everyday practices of schools. In particular, we are concerned with the ways that coercive control–a strategy used predominantly by men to dominate, control and oppress women in the context of intimate partner relationships–can be deployed to manipulate and coerce the organisational networks of schools into furthering abusive agendas. Informed by cultural theory and research from sociology of education, legal studies, criminology and family violence, we show how what we term the ‘coercion of organisational networks’ (CON) both relies upon and exploits systemic misogyny and gendered unequal relations of power. These issues underpin institutional strategies often used by schools to keep parents–and mothers, in particular–at a distance. When affected by separation, divorce and family violence, being positioned in problematic terms can create additional risks for women and children. We argue that without adequate understandings of coercive control as practices within a broader constellation of systemic misogyny and gender inequalities, and in the absence of organisational cultures committed to addressing these, schools are considered complicit in perpetuating family violence and its effects.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.