Palmer, Jay (2019) Expanding The Understanding of Online Harassment and Online Harassers by Investigating Internal Narratives: An Exploratory Study. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.
Abstract

Due to the current indistinct and nebulous term of ‘online harassment,’ this research explored the subjective definitions of this offense and how it fits into an internet user’s internal narrative. The resulting narrative profiles challenged the current depiction and perception of online harassment as behaviour typical of juvenile psychopaths who are somehow flawed mentally or emotionally. The research was accomplished via the analysis of semi-structured interviews with three men and three women who were recruited using social media. Due to the unique area of online social interactions the transcribed interviews were coded using adaptations of existing research methods; a qualitative approach that borrowed from grounded theory, discourse and narrative analysis, and the Narrative Action System in order to better explore and explain the social dynamics and internal narratives within a virtual environment in regards to online harassment. The study produced three distinct narrative profiles that provided an explanation for the magnitude of recorded harassment incidents that take place in the realms of social media and the internet in general. The profiles demonstrated relatable explanations as to how and why an otherwise blameless internet user may engage in harassment, or perceive themselves as a victim of it. The implications of this research provided further grounds for analysis of online harassment as behaviour that is representative of the human condition, rather than a maladaptive response of a flawed mind, as wells as arguments for legal reform when defining the term as an offense and prosecuting or defending from an accusation of online harassment.

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