How do children attend to issues of accountability when reporting experiences of, and explanations for bullying?
Abby Coleman dissertation 2010.pdf (1021.Kb)
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This study examines how children account for bullying when reporting experiences of and explanations for bullying. Previously, research on bullying has been predominantly quantitative based. This has only allowed for a unitary understanding of bullying which consists of defining bullying as a unified invariable behaviour. Qualitative studies on bullying have not gone much further, only examining what is done to bullying when attending to issues of accountability. An attempt has been made to understand how this is done, but not how this is done to perform a certain function within a particular context. Hence the present study will examine bullying as a discursively organised phenomenon constructed by and for children to examine these issues and demonstrate the social phenomenon of bullying. To do this, the principles of discursive psychology are adopted which assume that talk performs a social function. There is a focus on the children‟s experiences and explanations given for bullying. We show how children view these reports as accountable, thus a deviation from normative expectations and thus require a justification. The analysis highlights how these reports work up credibility/facticity to achieve an overall construction of victim blame and derogation. Furthermore the analysis showed how bullying incidents were trivialised and lastly how the children explicitly denied any agency for their actions or appealed to the principles of consensus to speak for the rightness of the bullying. Given the pervasiveness of bullying in everyday life, we argue for the need to recognise it as a process not a mere product of society. Within this it is suggested that it would be beneficial to design bullying interventions which promoted and understood bullying as a normative, minimal practice not always an extraordinary practice, as the trivialisation of bullying showed. However above all it is suggested that discursive research can appreciate the disparity and perceptual differences in experiences which is invaluable in establishing individualised bullying interventions.