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Students’ Perspectives on Bullying
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education, Teaching and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Elevers Perspektiv på Mobbning (Swedish)
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.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 193
Keyword [en]
bullying, students’ perspectives, interviews, bystander reactions, grounded theory, symbolic interactionism
Keyword [sv]
mobbning, elevers perspektiv, intervju, grundad teori, symbolisk interaktionism
National Category
Pedagogy Didactics Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123925DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-123925ISBN: 978-91-7685-874-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-123925DiVA: diva2:893883
Public defence
2016-02-05, sal I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-01-14 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Bystanders to bullying: Fourth- to seventh-grade students' perspectives on their reactions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bystanders to bullying: Fourth- to seventh-grade students' perspectives on their reactions
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
Keyword
bullying, bystander, defending, moral disengagement, moral distress, definition of situation, symbolic interactionism, grounded theory, constructivist grounded theory, mobbning, åskådare, moraliskt disengagemang, moralisk stress, moraliskt distress, definition av situationen, symbolisk interaktionism, grundad teori, konstruktivistisk grundad teori
National Category
Pedagogy Social Psychology Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105641 (URN)10.1080/02671522.2013.878375 (DOI)000341272800003 ()
Available from: 2014-03-31 Created: 2014-03-31 Last updated: 2017-12-05
2. Students’ views of factors affecting their bystander behaviors in response to school bullying: A cross-collaborative conceptual qualitative analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Students’ views of factors affecting their bystander behaviors in response to school bullying: A cross-collaborative conceptual qualitative analysis
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present study seeks to contribute to qualitative research on students’ perspectives on bystander behaviors to better understand their behaviors in bullying situations. Researchers have found that the prevalence of school bullying in Sweden is amongst the lowest in the world, whereas there is a much higher rate of bullying in the US (Craig et al. 2009). This in turn motivates the inclusion of a Swedish sub-sample and a US sub-sample of students in the current study, and to conduct a qualitative comparative analysis within as well as between these sub-samples. The aim of the present study was to focus on how students in Sweden and in the US articulate and discuss what factors influence their own and other students’ decisions to defend or not defend victims when witnessing bullying. We asked the following questions: How would students respond to bullying? What are students’ perceived reasons for responding in a particular way? What factors do students articulate as supporting defending or not defending in response to bullying? Across each of these questions, we aimed to identify similarities and differences between and within the students from the Swedish and US schools.

National Category
Pedagogy Didactics Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123923 (URN)
Available from: 2016-01-13 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved
3. The social ordering of belonging: children’s perspectives on bullying
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The social ordering of belonging: children’s perspectives on bullying
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Educational Research, ISSN 0883-0355, E-ISSN 1873-538X, Vol. 78, 13-23 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim with this study was to listen to how children themselves discuss, reason on and make sense of how and why bullying emerges to extend our knowledge of what social processes that are made important among the children. As stated by Green and Hill (2005), we value children’s perspectives and want to understand their lived experience, and are motivated to “find out more about how children understand and interpret, negotiate and feel about their daily lives” (p. 3). While most studies on bullying have used quant methods, Mishna, Saini, and Solomon (2009) argue that qualitative methodologies present an opportunity for developing a deeper understanding of the group processes of bullying and participants’ perspectives on peer harassment. They are “capable of discovering important discourses and nuances” (p. 1222) that might be less visible in large-scale studies. There is a small but growing body of research on children and adolescents’ perspectives on bullying. Previous qualitative studies have revealed that children report a range of explanations as to why bullying takes place but tend to address either the victim or the bully as the cause of bullying (for a review, see Thornberg, 2011b). The victim is commonly described as deviant, odd or different, and children explain such deviant or odd characteristics or behaviour as causing the bullying (e.g., Bibou-Nakou et al., 2012; Cheng et al., 2011; Frisén, Holmqvist, & Oscarsson, 2008; Teräsahjo & Salmivalli, 2003; Thornberg, 2010, 2015a; Varjas et al., 2008). Another common explanation used among children to describe why bullying occurs addresses the bully, the bully is viewed as striving for power and status (e.g., Frisén et al., 2008; Swart & Bredekamp, 2009; Thornberg, 2010; Thornberg & Knutsen, 2011; Varjas et al., 2008), suffering from psychosocial problems, insecurity or having problems at home (e.g., Frisén et al., 2008; Thornberg, 2010; Thornberg, & Knutsen, 2011; Varjas et al, 2008), or simply being a mean or bad person (e.g., Thornberg, 2010). Further bullying explanations address  peer pressure (e.g., Erling & Hwang, 2004) and having fun and  avoiding boredom (e.g., Hamarus & Kaikkonen, 2008; Owens et al., 2000). Thornberg (2011a) suggests labelling and stigma theory as a theoretical framework to gain a deeper understanding of children’s tendency to blame the victim, where bullying is viewed as a social process manifested as an interactional pattern of inhumanity and power abuse. Bullying could also be understood as a collective action where labelling the victim as the cause justifies the social act of bullying where the bullies are constructed as the “normal us” (Thornberg, 2015). Hence, inclusion and exclusions might be viewed as ongoing processes embedded in childrens’s way to organise their peer activities (e.g., Adler & Alder, 1995; Bliding, 2004; Svahn & Evaldsson, 2011), which means that some actions might not be defined as bullying from the perspectives of the children. In this study it is therefore of interest to explore how and in what ways children discuss bullying, to extend our knowledge of what processes that are made important among the children. In our theoretical and methodological framework we therefore came to adopt a symbolic interactionist perspective and constructivist grounded theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
National Category
Pedagogy Didactics Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123924 (URN)10.1016/j.ijer.2016.05.008 (DOI)000380869100002 ()
Available from: 2016-01-13 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2017-09-25Bibliographically approved
4. Bullying As Negotiated Identities: Junior High School Girls’ Perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bullying As Negotiated Identities: Junior High School Girls’ Perspectives
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study explores 40 junior high school girls’ perspectives of bullying through pair and group interviews. Data collection and analyses were based on grounded theory and interactionism and focused social processes and interaction. Bullying was constructed as an identity process, including the gendered identity; victim identity; and socially valuable identity, negotiated through selfconfidence. Self-confidence was socially valued but constrained by a gender- and a normative peer structure where pressure to fit in made it difficult to have both self-confidence and have a socially valuable identity. These findings highlight how identity processes influence bullying.

Keyword
Bullying, girls, identity, gender, grounded theory
National Category
Pedagogy Didactics Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123922 (URN)
Available from: 2016-01-13 Created: 2016-01-13 Last updated: 2016-01-14Bibliographically approved

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