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Bystanders to bullying: Fourth- to seventh-grade students' perspectives on their reactions
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education, Teaching and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education, Teaching and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education, Teaching and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9233-3862
2014 (English)In: Research Papers in Education, ISSN 0267-1522, E-ISSN 1470-1146, Vol. 29, no 5, 557-576 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim with the present study was to investigate bystander actions in bullying situations as well as reasons behind these actions as they are articulated by Swedish students from fourth to seventh grade. Forty-three semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with students. Qualitative analysis of data was performed by methods from grounded theory. The analysis of the student voices of being a bystander in bullying reveals a complexity in which different definition-of-situation processes are evoked (a) relations (friends and social hierarchy), (b) defining seriousness, (c) victim’s contribution to the situation, (d) social roles and intervention responsibilities, and (e) distressing emotions. There are often conflicted motives in how to act as a bystander, which could evoke moral distress among the students. Our analysis is unique in that it introduces the concept of moral distress as a process that has to be considered in order to better understand bystander actions among children The findings also indicate bystander reactions that could be associated with moral disengagement, such as not perceiving a moral obligation to intervene if the victim is defined as a non-friend (‘none of my business’), protecting the friendship with the bully, and blaming the victim.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2014. Vol. 29, no 5, 557-576 p.
Keyword [en]
bullying, bystander, defending, moral disengagement, moral distress, definition of situation, symbolic interactionism, grounded theory, constructivist grounded theory
Keyword [sv]
mobbning, åskådare, moraliskt disengagemang, moralisk stress, moraliskt distress, definition av situationen, symbolisk interaktionism, grundad teori, konstruktivistisk grundad teori
National Category
Pedagogy Social Psychology Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105641DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2013.878375ISI: 000341272800003OAI: diva2:709200
Available from: 2014-03-31 Created: 2014-03-31 Last updated: 2016-05-04
In thesis
1. Students’ Perspectives on Bullying
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Students’ Perspectives on Bullying
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Elevers Perspektiv på Mobbning
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present thesis was to listen to, examine and conceptualise students’ perspectives on bullying. Students’ perspectives have not been commonly heard in research and less qualitative research has been conducted. This study contributes with students’ perspectives on bullying using semi-structured interviews with students from fourth-to eighth grade.

This thesis includes four studies. The aim with paper I was to investigate how bystander actions in bullying situations and reasons behind these actions were articulated. Paper II was a comparison study between Sweden and US, focused on how students articulate and discuss what factors influence students’ decisions to defend or not defend victims when witnessing bullying. The aim in Paper III was to study how students themselves discuss, reason and make sense of how and why bullying processes emerges in their social worlds. In paper IV the aim was to study how junior high school girls discuss and understand bullying. Findings reveal that students’ reactions as bystanders to bullying depend on how they define the situation. Explanations to the emergence of bullying were understood through a complex social ordering of belonging process. Students position themselves and others in striving to belong, and when defining victims as responsible for bullying. Social norms and negotiation of identities were also discussed among the students. Students discussed how gender and a normative peer structure, where a pressure to fit in, interlinked with how they understood bullying.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med denna avhandling är att lyssna på, utforska och konceptualisera elevers perspektiv på mobbning då elevers perspektiv utgör ett viktigt bidrag till vår fortsatta förståelse av mobbning. Det finns fortfarande få kvalitativa studier som fokuserat elevers perspektiv på mobbning. Denna studie utgör därför ett viktig bidrag och baseras på semi-strukturerade intervjuer med elever ifrån fjärde till åttondeklass.

Avhandlingen består utav fyra studier. Syftet med studie I var att undersöka hur åskådarageranden i mobbningssituationer artiklueras av eleverna och skälen bakom dessa. Syftet med studie II var att jämföra hur elever i Sverige och USA artikulerar och diskuterar vilka faktorer som influerar deras beslut att ingripa eller inte ingripa när de blir åskådare till mobbning. Syftet med studie III var att undersöka hur elever diskuterar, resonerar och förstår vad som producerar mobbning. Syftet med studie IV var att undersöka hur högstadietjejer diskuterar och förstår mobbning. Resultaten visar att elevers reaktioner som åskådare till mobbning är situationsbundna utifån hur de definierar situationen. Förklararingar till vad som producerar mobbning sammanlänkas med en komplex socialt ordnande process där eleverna positionerar sig själv och andra i strävan att tillhöra och den utsatta ofta görs ansvarig för mobbningen. Även sociala normer och förhandlade av identiteter kommer till uttryck när eleverna diskuterar hur kön och normativa kamratnormer, där strävan att passa in, sammanlänkas med deras förståelse av mobbning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. 119 p.
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 193
bullying, students’ perspectives, interviews, bystander reactions, grounded theory, symbolic interactionism, mobbning, elevers perspektiv, intervju, grundad teori, symbolisk interaktionism
National Category
Pedagogy Didactics Educational Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123925 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-123925 (DOI)978-91-7685-874-5 (Print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-02-05, sal I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-01-14 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved

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Forsberg, CamillaSamuelsson, MarcusThornberg, Robert
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