Women-Centered Rituals and Levels of Domestic Violence
A Cross-Cultural Examination of Ritual as a Signaling and Solidarity-Building Strategy
Keywords:costly signaling theory, domestic violence, ritual, women, religion, solidarity, marriage residence patterns
Prior research indicates that ritual can be a source of social solidarity by signaling trustworthiness and group commitment. A separate line of research expects domestic violence against women to be more common in societies with post-marital residence at the husband’s birthplace (i.e. patrilocality). Thus, we hypothesized that when wives are able to construct strong bonds with the female members of their communities through solidarity-building rituals, they gain social support capable of inhibiting violence, leading to lower overall levels of domestic violence--especially in patrilocal societies. Results indicated that certain types of women-centered rituals were associated with lower levels of sexual and domestic violence; however, we found inconsistent effects according to patrilocal residence. Women-centered rituals were not found to be associated with beliefs about the husband’s prerogative to punish and dominate his spouse, and patrilocality did not contribute to the effects we found.
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