Contestation and Compliance: Adolescent Girls’ Attitudes toward Domestic Violence in Ghana

Ashley E. Frost, Pennsylvania State University

A qualitative analysis of 29 in-depth interviews with Ghanaian girls between the ages of 10 and 15 reveals an acceptance of male-dominant norms and domestic violence. Respondent attitudes are examined using Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemonic ideology, whereby subordinate groups adopt the values and beliefs set forth by the dominant group and internalize the needs and interests of those in power. While 15 respondents endorse domestic violence as viable part of marriage and 12 respondents reject domestic violence, both groups express a near universal endorsement of significant male power in marriage. Respondents see violence as a tool (among many tools) for men to achieve control over women who ‘misbehave’; even respondents who consistently reject domestic violence recount detailed strategies that men may use to gain power over their wives. In this context, the adoption of dominant group interests by respondents reflects an internalization of subordination as described by Gramsci.

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Presented in Poster Session 5