Efforts to reduce intimate partner violence in sub-Saharan Africa generally approach the issue through the lens of women’s empowerment. These efforts include foci on women’s relative power in the relationship, educational background, and earning potential. The social status of men has largely been ignored, reducing the potential to involve them in efforts to demote intimate partner violence. In this study we consider whether a man’s perceived social status predicts conflict tactics, and whether these tactics are mediated by loneliness and collective self-esteem from a community-based sample in semi-rural Kenya (n = 263). We find that men who reported lower perceived social status also reported significantly more frequent violent conflicts with their intimate partners. This association was significantly, and completely, mediated by lower collective self-esteem and higher loneliness. There was no direct association between subjective social status and negotiation-based conflict tactics, although there was an indirect association. Men with higher perceived social status reported higher collective self-esteem, and men with higher collective self-esteem reported more negotiation-based conflict tactics. These findings inform efforts to reduce intimate partner violence by involving men, showing potential to reduce violence by building self-esteem among men—particularly those with lower perceived social status.
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