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Interpretations of Bullying: How Students, Teachers, and Principals Perceive Negative Peer Interactions in Elementary Schools

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dc.contributor.advisor Eder, Donna en_US
dc.contributor.author Harger, Brent en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2010-06-16T15:11:20Z
dc.date.available 2012-04-04T16:45:19Z
dc.date.issued 2010-06-16T15:11:20Z
dc.date.submitted 2009 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2022/8653
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Sociology, 2009 en_US
dc.description.abstract Despite increased media attention following high-profile school shootings, bullying continues to be defined as a nationwide problem. While researchers in a number of fields have studied this problem, much of the existing literature ignores information about how individuals in schools actually define and interpret bullying. In order to better understand these interactions, my dissertation is a multi-method study combining interviews with 53 students and 10 adults and over 430 hours of participant observation with fifth grade students at two rural elementary schools. Drawing on the sociological tradition of symbolic interactionism, these methods allow me to understand bullying from the perspectives of those in the schools. I argue that bullying is socially constructed by students and adults who take social contexts into account when determining whether or not an action should be defined as bullying and how they will respond. While adults in this study focused on outcomes, students focused on intentions and included a number of caveats in their definitions, stating that those who were joking, retaliating, or making fun of younger students were not engaging in bullying. Further, the images associated with the word "bully" in popular culture led a number of participants to hold views of bullying that focused on people rather than actions, thinking of bullies as those who were always mean. These person-centered definitions allowed them to "define away" bullying as a problem in their schools, despite the continued presence of interactions that fit typical definitions of bullying. Because they could not directly observe all of the interactions taking place in a classroom, at lunch, or on the playground, bullying often went unobserved by adults. As a result, students were able to use the school rules as weapons against each other, selectively reporting rule violations by peers that they disliked, whether or not their peers were guilty of those violations. These findings demonstrate the ways that bullying is a part of the culture in these elementary schools. As such, solutions to this problem demand an understanding of and consideration for the larger school culture in order to improve students' daily experiences at school. en_US
dc.language.iso EN en_US
dc.publisher [Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University en_US
dc.subject Bullying en_US
dc.subject Elementary School en_US
dc.subject Ethnography en_US
dc.subject Peer Interactions en_US
dc.subject Social Psychology en_US
dc.subject Sociology en_US
dc.subject.classification Sociology, General en_US
dc.subject.classification Education, Elementary en_US
dc.title Interpretations of Bullying: How Students, Teachers, and Principals Perceive Negative Peer Interactions in Elementary Schools en_US
dc.type Doctoral Dissertation en_US


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