Stalking in Scotland: a Feminist Perspective

  • Katy Proctor

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis critically explores the phenomenon of stalking. Scotland first defined stalking as a crime in 2010. The Scottish law reflects the dominant discourse in stalking research which identifies the key features as repeated behaviours which cause an individual fear or alarm. Legal definitions as well as academic definitions, however, vary significantly in how those features are defined. Consequently, our understanding of stalking is disjointed and lacks theoretical coherence; we are yet to define what specifically makes stalking, stalking.

This thesis draws on feminist empirical research with self-identified victims of stalking in Scotland. The study uses a mixed methods feminist approach to identify common features of stalking as experienced by those victimised from a range of stalker/target relationships e.g. ex-partner, neighbour, colleague. Participants, whose stalking experience took place in Scotland, provided data by completing an online survey (n=128) and/or participating in in-depth, unstructured interviews (n=33).

The empirical findings identify power and control as a fundamental motivator for perpetrators of stalking regardless of perpetrator/target relationship. It is postulated that a feminist interpretation of Tittle’s (1995, 2004) Control Balance Theory provides a useful model to explain the causal factors of stalking. It was found that third party connections are a significant presence in a target’s stalking experience strengthening the perpetrator’s imposition of power and control whether inadvertently or purposely. However, deliberate communication by the stalker to the target of their surveillance is proposed as the distinct feature of a stalking experience. These findings have significant implications for policy development, policing and victim support services to support investigation and improve responses to those victimised. As such, the thesis makes a unique contribution to knowledge by developing a new classification that details the network of third party connections involved in stalking and their roles; this study also proposes a new definition of stalking which has interdisciplinary relevance. This definition has the potential to provide a universal theoretical framework and consequently, inform new directions for and engage cross disciplinary stalking research whilst respecting discipline specific variables.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorJacqueline Tombs (Supervisor), Lesley McMillan (Supervisor), John McKendrick (Supervisor) & Nancy Lombard (Supervisor)

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