Flux and Strain in Marriage Contraction: The Changing Face of Bridewealth in Contemporary Ghana

Naa Dodua Dodoo, University of Ghana

This paper uses semi-structured in-depth interviews with traditional rulers and community leaders in Ghana to examine the current role of bridewealth in marriage and the implications of changes in the practice of bridewealth for unions. We find that bridewealth still occupies a central role in marriage in Ghana. However, social, cultural, and economic changes have led to a breakdown of norms surrounding marriage contraction and the marriage process becoming more expensive than it was in the past. These have given the leeway for the women to contribute to the bridewealth payment, leading to a shift in the power base of marriage and that may lead to marital conflict, and instability. It is suggested that the role of love in modern marriages is explored and men are engaged in the process of developing healthy masculinities and as avenues to counter the effects of these changes in marriage contraction.

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  Presented in Session 123. Family and Marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa: Transformation And Consequences II