Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Hugh Gladwin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lois West

Third Advisor's Name

Laura Ogden

Fourth Advisor's Name

Mary Levitt

Date of Defense



Limited literature exists on Ghana's child domestic servants, and researchers have found it difficult to locate and study these children. The research for this dissertation used qualitative research methodologies and non-probabilistic sampling techniques to make it possible to interview child domestic servants, their parents, employers and recruiters in Ghana. The findings from the qualitative analyses informed the second part of this study, which was quantitative and tested hypotheses using crosstabulations and logistic regression analyses that were based on survey data from the Ghana Statistical Service. Explanatory variables in the quantitative analyses included lineage, level of education and relationships to the household head.

This study located findings about the processes of children's recruitment into domestic servitude, their working conditions and methods of remuneration in theories of slavery to answer the question of whether or not child domestic servants are slaves. According to the findings, elite households in Ghana exploit children from rural regions because they have taken advantage of a historical practice that allowed children to live with older members of their extended families to provide domestic services and in return, be given the chance to receive formal education or to learn a trade. The participants in the qualitative part of this research described the treatments that they receive from their employers as slavery. Nevertheless, the processes of their recruitment and the age at which most of them accepted such job offers made it difficult to categorize a majority of them as contemporary slaves.




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