Alum returned to WSU
to train for Olympics
Francis Dodoo, who holds joint appointments as a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University and director of the Regional Institute of Population Studies at the University of Ghana, has ties to the Palouse.
A champion athlete in multiple sports in his home country of Ghana, Dodoo enrolled at WSU in 1981 to study economics and concentrate on track and field. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1984 and his master’s degree in 1986.
While writing his doctoral dissertation for the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to Pullman in 1986-1988 to train with Rick Sloan for the 1988 Olympics.
Dodoo competed in the triple jump in the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics. In 1987 he won a gold medal in the triple jump at the All-Africa Games.
He is president of the Ghana Athletics Association.
PULLMAN – Domestic violence became illegal in Ghana in 2007, but it still happens and, seemingly, is accepted by women as well as men. When the law changes but the practice continues, what do you do?
WSU sociologist Christine Horne and her research partner, Francis Dodoo, a WSU alum and sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, traveled among villages in rural Ghana for two weeks in late February to administer a vignette survey aimed at better understanding norms regulating domestic violence and marriage.
Measuring norms, Horne said, means trying to figure out community expectations and at what point the community will sanction members for bad behavior. Preliminary research in Ghana suggests that certain behaviors that the community agrees are unacceptable while a couple is dating become more acceptable after marriage, she said.
“There still appears to be support for domestic violence, and rationalizations and even explanations for such,” agreed Dodoo in an e-mail from Ghana. “My hunch is that bridewealth payment (from the groom to the bride’s family) is a factor because, indeed, that determines whether marriages are fully consummated or not.
“The point is that condoning this practice (domestic violence) is much more likely once they are husband and wife,” he said.
Horne, who joined the WSU faculty in 2004, said she attended a lecture Dodoo gave on the Pullman campus in 2006 and the two struck up a conversation about shared interests. Dodoo, who holds a joint appointment as director of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana, conducts research on gender, power and marital relationships in Africa.
“My work has focused primarily on reproductive and sexual outcomes,” Dodoo wrote. “What Christine proposes now directs us to this very salient social problem that is domestic violence. So, I am excited about this new direction.”
And Horne said she was excited to be going back to West Africa. She spent nearly a year in Nigeria in the 1980s working in rural villages on a child health project. The group she was working with taught preventive healthcare to women elders so they could teach the other women of the village.
In 2009 Horne authored the book, “The Rewards of Punishment: A Relational Theory of Norm Enforcement.” In it, she develops her theory that people sanction bad behavior because they want to look good to others.
The centerpiece of the book is a series of lab experiments that Horne created to test her hypothesis that people will punish others to reinforce social norms, even if sanctioning others damages their own self interests.
“That was collecting information about norms in the lab,” Horne said. “This is collecting information about norms in the field.”
The research has added urgency because, not only are married women in Ghana more like to be victims of violence than unmarried women, they are more likely to contract HIV.
Horne said she and Dodoo plan to use data from this research to write a grant for a larger study of domestic violence, women’s health and marriage. Over the past decade and a half, Dodoo has secured grant funding of close to $10 million from the National Institutes of Health, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other organizations.