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What is Bullying?: Analytic Approaches to Relational Practices and Social Processes in School Classes with Bullying

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Dorte Marie Søndergaard - Lecturer

Bullying can be understood as an extreme extension of an everyday social dynamic among children in school. In order to contemplate which conditions might hinder the movement from the normal flow of inclusions and exclusions to bullying, it is vital to understand the mechanisms that can cause marginalisation to escalate. One of the central mechanisms has to do with the fear of social exclusion as a driver for bullying practices. The concept of social exclusion anxiety is founded in a social psychological understanding of humans as existentially dependent on social embeddedness. Social embeddedness may come under pressure in any number of ways, enacted by intra-activity among a range of material-discursive forces – and when it happens uneasiness circulates around the group. One apparently effective alleviation strategy in relation to social exclusion anxiety is the production of contempt. The contempt-producing group may find its cohesiveness strengthened, while insecurity and ambivalence among the group members are intensified. The alleviation strategy simultaneously increases both the sense of control and danger. In this paper such dynamics together with practices of ridicule, and of closure of empathy will be discussed. The work on new conceptualisations of bullying practices is inspired by poststructuralist and agential realist authors such as Karen Barad, Judith Butler and Bronwyn Davies. The methodology involves analyses of interviews with and observations among children aged 10-14 as well as teachers, parents and school leaders. These data are generated within eXbus: Exploring Bullying in School, an interdisciplinary research project on bullying among children (www.exbus.dk). The conceptual framework is aimed to enhance understanding of bullying practices and thereby form a knowledge basis for the development of bullying prevention and/or intervention.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway. Duke University Press.
Butler, J. (1993) Bodies that Matter. Routledge.
Davies, B. (2000). A Body of Writing 1990-1999. Alta Mira Press.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2008) Offerpositionens dilemmaer. In K. Lützen inter alia. (eds.) På kant med historien. Museum Tusculanum.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2009) Mobning og Social Eksklusionsangst. In Kofoed & Søndergaard: Mobning. Hans Reitzel.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2011) Mobning, Mobbefryd, Humor og Fællesskab. I Jensen og Brinkman: Fællesskab i Skolen. Akademisk Forlag.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2012a) Bullying and Social Exclusion Anxiety. British Journal of Sociology in Education, vol. 34 (in press)
Søndergaard, D.M. (2012b) Virtual materiality, potentiality and subjectivity: How do we conceptualize real-virtual interaction embodied and enacted in computer gaming, imagery and night dreams? (with Subjectivity for review)


Bullying can be understood as an extreme extension of an everyday social dynamic among children in school. In order to contemplate which conditions might hinder the movement from the normal flow of inclusions and exclusions to bullying, it is vital to understand the mechanisms that can cause marginalisation to escalate. One of the central mechanisms has to do with the fear of social exclusion as a driver for bullying practices. The concept of social exclusion anxiety is founded in a social psychological understanding of humans as existentially dependent on social embeddedness. Social embeddedness may come under pressure in any number of ways, enacted by intra-activity among a range of material-discursive forces – and when it happens uneasiness circulates around the group. One apparently effective alleviation strategy in relation to social exclusion anxiety is the production of contempt. The contempt-producing group may find its cohesiveness strengthened, while insecurity and ambivalence among the group members are intensified. The alleviation strategy simultaneously increases both the sense of control and danger. In this paper such dynamics together with practices of ridicule, and of closure of empathy will be discussed. The work on new conceptualisations of bullying practices is inspired by poststructuralist and agential realist authors such as Karen Barad, Judith Butler and Bronwyn Davies. The methodology involves analyses of interviews with and observations among children aged 10-14 as well as teachers, parents and school leaders. These data are generated within eXbus: Exploring Bullying in School, an interdisciplinary research project on bullying among children (www.exbus.dk). The conceptual framework is aimed to enhance understanding of bullying practices and thereby form a knowledge basis for the development of bullying prevention and/or intervention.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway. Duke University Press.
Butler, J. (1993) Bodies that Matter. Routledge.
Davies, B. (2000). A Body of Writing 1990-1999. Alta Mira Press.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2008) Offerpositionens dilemmaer. In K. Lützen inter alia. (eds.) På kant med historien. Museum Tusculanum.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2009) Mobning og Social Eksklusionsangst. In Kofoed & Søndergaard: Mobning. Hans Reitzel.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2011) Mobning, Mobbefryd, Humor og Fællesskab. I Jensen og Brinkman: Fællesskab i Skolen. Akademisk Forlag.
Søndergaard, D.M. (2012a) Bullying and Social Exclusion Anxiety. British Journal of Sociology in Education, vol. 34 (in press)
Søndergaard, D.M. (2012b) Virtual materiality, potentiality and subjectivity: How do we conceptualize real-virtual interaction embodied and enacted in computer gaming, imagery and night dreams? (with Subjectivity for review)


8 Mar 2012

Event (Conference)

TitleNERA
Abbreviated titleNERA
Date08/03/201210/03/2012
LocationIUP, Aarhus University
CityCopenhagen
Country/TerritoryDenmark

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ID: 44739014