Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation explored the relationships between social communication, culture and reproductive behaviour. Drawing upon theories of structural and behavioral change, mechanisms of value formation and transformation over time were discussed and used to build upon Lesthaeghe and Surkyn's (1988) postulation linking the ideational system reproductive behaviour. Accordingly, theories that posit reproductive choices in sub-Saharan Africa as primarily rooted in past practices and traditional value systems were questioned and, instead, interactionist bases of reproductive choice were suggested that accord with communication theories of behavioral innovation and social change.;The theories were tested using the 1989 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey data, and results of logistic regression analysis largely confirmed hypotheses linking the ideational system with reproduction in Kenya. In this regard, indicators of social communication and ideational factors rather than those of past demographic experience were found to be the most consistent and reliable predictors of contraceptive behaviour ever-married Kenyan women.;As predicted, greater mass media exposure to family planning information lowered the likelihood that a woman was in a low contraceptive status (i.e., not knowing a contraceptive method or having never used any) and raised the probability of her being in a high contraceptive status (namely, a past or current user). Also, exposure to family planning information through friends and relatives lowered the likelihood of a woman being in a low contraceptive status and raised the odds for her being in a high contraceptive status. In fact, unlike mass media impact, exposure through relatives and friends also increased the probability that a woman would be a never-user intending to use contraceptives in future and reduced the likelihood that she was a never-user not intending to contracept. Given the expectation that friends and relatives would be homophilous with respondents over reproductive norms and values, this finding confirms the contention that the ideational system in Kenya largely supported reproductive innovation.;Thus, consistent with this interpretation, indicators of the ideational component of reproductive culture (comprising mainly spousal communication, ideal number of children education and literacy, and husband's approval of family planning) lowered the likelihood of being in a low contraceptive status and raised the probability of being in a high one, while those of demographic experience (namely, children ever born, marital duration, age at first birth, child mortality experience, and age at first birth) were hardly associated with contraceptive behaviour.;Meanwhile. though ethnicity was a consistent predictor of contraceptive behaviour its effects were substantially attenuated by inclusion of indices of mass media exposure into the analytical models. On the other hand, exposure through relatives and friends hand no such impact on ethnicity effects, suggesting a high communality of perception around reproduction within interpersonal networks. The results also show that religion was an important influence on contraceptive behaviour in Kenya, with Christians being more likely to be in high contraceptive statuses relative to those with traditional or no religious affiliation.



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