Fighting for Friendship, Justice, and Respect: Relational Aggression and Violence among Urban Young Women

By Rebecca Rivera-Maestre.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 9, 2014 $US5.00

This narrative study explores young women’s relational aggression and violence in the context of their friendships and peer relationships with other young women. The study, focusing on complex relational meanings of girl fighting from the perspective of young women themselves, addresses underlying interpersonal experiences that have been overlooked in past research. Nineteen African American and Latina women (ages 18-21) were interviewed using the Listening Guide Method about their experiences of relational aggression and violence. Findings from this qualitative analysis foreground the centrality of relationships in young women’s lives. The study pays particular attention to the role of personal agency and their ability to thrive in communities of connection with other young women. The findings highlight a relational paradox: fighting for friendship, justice, and respect, demonstrated the multilayered meanings, motivations, and subjective experiences young women ascribe to their experiences of fighting with other young women, as well as the relationship between fighting and friendship in urban contexts. Social work practice and policy implications include the development and implementation of gender-specific, culturally responsive violence prevention programs for urban young women and girls.

Keywords: Relational Aggression, Violence, Urban Young Women

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.21-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 9, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 193.496KB)).

Dr. Rebecca Rivera-Maestre

Assistant Professor, Social Work Program, Department of Social Sciences, School of Health and Behavioral Sciences, City University of New York, Jamaica, New York, USA

Dr. Rebecca Rivera-Maestre is an assistant professor in the health sciences department at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York in Long Island City, New York, where she teaches courses for a human services program. She is a licensed clinical social worker in New York City. Her research interests include youth violence, with a focus on young women and girls, urban young women’s friendships, and narrative methods of qualitative inquiry.