Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Judy Jackson

Second Advisor

Dr. Sonja Feist-Price


African American beauty salons across the country have historically served as settings for social interaction, political activism, and community organizing in the African American community. These settings often offer opportunities for intimacy between cosmetologists and their clients. Research findings suggest that the unique bonds between women in salons can be a viable option when providing health intervention and education to large numbers of women. Data indicates that salon campaigns and promotions which focused on health issues such as stroke and diabetes education, breast and cervical cancer awareness, healthy living, and smoking cessation, have been efficacious in changing unhealthy habits or increasing knowledge. There are a plethora of social and health issues that could also benefit from this culturally sensitive platform. In particular, abused African American women face multiple barriers when accessing services offered by legal, medical, and social services. These barriers can impact the help seeking behaviors of victims/survivors. Developing strategic interventions that address the ways in which these women seek help as well as increasing access to services is essential.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how African American cosmetologists and salons might be used in domestic violence advocacy and education. Theories framing this research included intersectionality and the social ecological framework (SEF). The interrelatedness of intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, and societal factors within each framework was used to understand how women experience violence and how the social phenomena in African American salons might provide alternative means of intervention to reach and empower marginalized, abused women. Eleven licensed, African American cosmetologists in three separate salons were recruited. Their perceptions (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions) about domestic violence advocacy and experiences with clients were collected and analyzed. In-depth interviews with each cosmetologists recreated their daily encounters in the salon and provided information about their relationships with clients. These findings were triangulated by salon observations and survey instrumentation. Common patterns and themes from this data were identified and coded. The findings were reported using rich, descriptive narratives provided by the cosmetologists.