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”Why Do We Even Bully?”: Exploring the Social Processes of Bullying in Two Swedish Elementary Schools
Linköping university, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6098-8389
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
”Varför mobbar vi ens?” : Mobbningens sociala processer i två svenska mellanstadieskolor (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to explore and deepen the understanding of pupils’ experiences of bullying and their reflections on why bullying may occur and be maintained in school, despite pupils’ understanding that bullying is wrong. This aim is examined in four articles. The results highlight how pupils emphasise the importance of the social perception of individual pupils. Pupils may thus assume different participant roles in bullying situations to emphasise, maintain, or protect their own social position in the group, but also in an effort to reduce the risk of being bullied. The participating pupils raise the importance of social stigmatisation as a significant social process in bullying and highlight social stigmatisation processes as closely related to social perceptions of “normality” and “difference”. Social stigmatisation is, in turn, related to processes of inclusion and exclusion. The results point to the importance of the institutional constraints of the school setting in the occurrence and maintenance of bullying, not least in how pupils relate these constraints to social status, friendship, and bullying. In conclusion, the results of the dissertation highlight the importance of understanding bullying as a socially intertwined phenomenon and part of a social ecology. Not only do societal norms shape pupils’ perceptions of how pupils “should” be as a girl or boy in school, but the social contexts of schools and classrooms are also significant for what is socially valued or rejected. The results of the dissertation underline that the social ecology of bullying is closely linked to pupils’ experiences of social marginalisation, loneliness, and bullying. 

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med avhandlingen är att undersöka och fördjupa förståelsen för elevers erfarenheter av skolmobbning samt deras reflektioner om varför mobbning uppkommer och upprätthålls i skolan, trots att elever förstår att mobbning är fel. Avhandlingens syfte undersöks i fyra artiklar. Resultaten belyser hur elever betonar betydelsen av hur någon uppfattas socialt och att elever kan anta olika roller i mobbningssituationer i syfte att framhålla, upprätthålla, eller skydda den egna sociala positionen i gruppen, men även i strävan att skydda sig själva från risken att bli mobbade. De deltagande eleverna uppmärksammar social stigmatisering som en betydelsefull social process i mobbning och belyser hur sociala stigmatiseringsprocesser hänger tätt samman med sociala uppfattningar av ”normalitet” och ”annorlundahet”. Socialt stigma relateras i sin tur till processer av inkludering och exkludering i skolan. Avhandlingens resultat pekar på betydelsen av skolans institutionella särdrag för uppkomsten och upprätthållande av mobbning, Inte minst genom sätten på vilka dessa särdrag kan kopplas samman av elever med social status, vänskap och mobbning. Avslutningsvis belyser avhandlingens resultat betydelsen av att förstå mobbning som ett socialt sammanflätat fenomen och som del av en social ekologi där inte bara samhälleliga normer präglar elevers uppfattningar om hur elever ”bör” vara som tjej eller kille i skolan, utan där också skolans sociala kontext är betydelsefull för vad som värderas eller stöts undan socialt. Resultaten av avhandlingen understryker att mobbningens sociala ekologi hänger tätt samman med elevers erfarenheter av social marginalisering, ensamhet och mobbning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2021. , p. 124
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, E-ISSN 1654-2029 ; 234
Keywords [en]
bullying, participant roles, social status, inclusion, exclusion, social stigmatisation, social marginalisation, loneliness, school context, social ecology
Keywords [sv]
mobbning, deltagarroller, social status, inkludering, exkludering, social stigmatisering, social marginalisering, ensamhet, skolkontext, social ekologi
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-107747DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-180399ISBN: 9789179290979 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-107747DiVA, id: diva2:1607317
Public defence
2021-11-12, C3, C-building, Campus Valla, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-11-01 Created: 2021-11-01 Last updated: 2021-11-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Coolness and social vulnerability: Swedish pupils’ reflections on participant roles in school bullying
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coolness and social vulnerability: Swedish pupils’ reflections on participant roles in school bullying
2020 (English)In: Research Papers in Education, ISSN 0267-1522, E-ISSN 1470-1146, Vol. 35, no 5, p. 603-622Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the study was to examine Swedish school pupils’ perspectives on why some pupils engage in bullying, support bullying or avoid standing up for the one(s) being bullied, despite a shared understanding that bullying is wrong. Through the use of focus group interviews combined with two bullying vignettes, a total of 74 pupils from grades 5 and 6 (i.e. 11–12 years of age) from two public primary schools in socioeconomically diverse areas were asked for their perspectives on various participant roles in bullying. In interpreting the vignette scenario, the participants emphasised the importance of perceived coolness, as well as the risk of being bullied. In seeking to avoid becoming a ‘victim’ of bullying, the situational roles of ‘bully’, ‘assistant’, ‘reinforcer’ and ‘outsider’ were understood as potential means for promoting, maintaining or protecting one’s own social position. The findings of the study challenge previous understandings of bullying as an act of harmful or aggressive intentionality and rather highlight the relational and situational aspects of bullying.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2020
Keywords
Bullying, bystanders, coolness, school, social positioning
National Category
Educational Sciences Pedagogy Social Psychology
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-107748 (URN)10.1080/02671522.2019.1615114 (DOI)000470396600001 ()2-s2.0-85065711050 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, D0775301
Available from: 2021-11-01 Created: 2021-11-01 Last updated: 2021-12-02Bibliographically approved
2. The fear of being singled out: Pupils' perspectives on victimisation and bystanding in bullying situations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The fear of being singled out: Pupils' perspectives on victimisation and bystanding in bullying situations
2020 (English)In: British Journal of Sociology of Education, ISSN 0142-5692, E-ISSN 1465-3346, Vol. 41, no 7, p. 942-957Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article explores 5th and 6th grade pupils’ reflections on why pupils may refrain from intervening in bullying, despite understanding that bullying is wrong. The findings are based on focus group interviews conducted with 74 Swedish school pupils, who were asked for their perspectives on the various participant roles depicted in a bullying vignette. The findings were analysed using methods from constructivist grounded theory and through the theoretical lens of Goffman’s concept of social stigma. The interviewees emphasised the implications of being positioned as the ‘victim’, including being socially stigmatised, isolated, denigrated and further bullied, and suggested that the fear of being ‘singled out’ would be a main concern for pupils, and hence the driving force behind why they may refrain from intervening in defence of a victimised peer. The study thus highlights the associated processes of social stigmatisation and the non-intervention of pupils in school bullying situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2020
Keywords
bullying, bystander, defending, difference, stigma, victimisation
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-107749 (URN)10.1080/01425692.2020.1789846 (DOI)000550701600001 ()2-s2.0-85088396762 (Scopus ID)2020 (Local ID)2020 (Archive number)2020 (OAI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, D0775301
Available from: 2021-11-01 Created: 2021-11-01 Last updated: 2021-12-02Bibliographically approved

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