Recipients of PSC Small Grant Awards

Exposure to Cultural Scripts and Attitudes toward Violence against Women in Malawi

Jeffrey Swindle

Jeffrey Swindle

Cultural scripts condemning violence against women are increasingly common and appear virtually anywhere, even in obscure locations across the world. Anti-violence scripts are one of many cultural scripts about factors commonly imagined to limit or cause development. Scholars recently began to examine connections between individuals’ exposure to development scripts and their attitudes, but have lacked ways to directly measure exposure. I specifically observe the influence of individuals’ exposure to anti-violence scripts on their attitudes toward violence against women in Malawi. Anti-violence scripts flow through many sources of information in Malawi. I provide contextual evidence to show that five sources are especially salient: education, media, urban environments, religious associations, and foreign aid interventions. I expect that Malawians exposure to anti-violence scripts through these five sources of exposure predicts their likelihood of rejecting violence against women net of socioeconomic, demographic, and family background characteristics. I further hypothesize that the rate of rejection of violence against women grew between 2000 and 2014. If this is true, I expect that temporal increases in the sources of exposure identified explain a substantial portion of the shift toward greater rejection over time. New and uniquely comprehensive data from Malawi allow me to test these hypotheses using multilevel logistic regression with individuals nested in districts. In addition, I am also collecting data about the degree to which anti-violence messages have been featured across these sources. This overcomes issues of model misspecification in existing research which assumes that the saturation level of anti-violence scripts is constant over time across all sources of exposure.

Funding Period: 4/18/2017 to 4/30/2018

International Focus: Malawi