Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Claire M. Renzetti

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary Hansen


This dissertation examines the influence of competing risks in shaping individuals' choices about potential intimate relationships. According to Ulrich Beck's "risk society" theory, the individualization of social risks has direct and measurable consequences for the ways people organize and evaluate potential intimate relationships (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 1995, 2002, 2004; Giddens, 1994; Lupton, 2006). This study investigates the ways in which subjective or identity-related risks hypothesized by scholars of late modernity shape the perception and the actual risk of dating violence. Empirical research on dating violence identifies many objective “risk factors” related to a person’s chances of experiencing intimate partner violence; however studies investigating perceptions of dating risk from the subject’s perspective sometimes reveal more personal concerns and priorities. To date, no intimate partner violence research explicitly utilizes a conceptualization of risk informed by risk society theories. The present study explores the potential for utilizing risk society concepts in explaining the relationships between perceptions of instrumental risks and identity-related risks, and how these risk perceptions may impact involvement in dating violence.