Nassem, Elizabeth (2012) Where Does Bullying Exist in Children's Everyday Experiences of School? Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The aim of this research is to examine, from children’s perspectives, where bullying exists in their everyday experiences of school. A Foucauldian perspective is used to conceptualise bullying and perceives it as involving power which is fluid and involves struggles between individuals. Different modalities of bullying are examined (between pupils, between teachers and pupils and systemic bullying). This research also investigates different severities of bullying from clear to ‘grey’; and different perspectives and feelings children have. Traditional definitions are challenged which distinguish bullying as a specific form of aggression, experienced by a minority of people.

Observations, focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with children in five state schools, a private school and a pupil referral unit, 84 children in total were interviewed. This research found that although most children experienced characteristics of bullying such as name-calling and humiliation, which often caused them distress, few children considered it as bullying and no-one referred to themselves as a bully. Teachers were subject to powers of normalisation and panopticism where they were under surveillance to ensure children conformed to education norms. Although bullying was found to be multi-causal, a particular finding in this thesis is the role played by boredom. Working-class boys with learning difficulties were particularly under ‘the gaze’ and increasingly targeted for punishment, which usually increased their boredom. Some of these children wanted revenge and engaged in bullying. Because they often felt increasingly targeted for punishment, they also experienced bullying by teachers and systemic bullying. Another reason children bully is to be popular and exercise social power over others. This research is an original contribution to knowledge because of its complex and multi-faceted understanding of bullying. These findings have wider resonance and are likely to apply where these processes occur, for example, in other schools.

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