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The dilemmas of victim positioning

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Based on a conceptualization of bullying and relational aggression in groups as an effect of social dynamics rather than individual deficits – this article reflects upon some of the intricate mechanisms and dilemmas involved in victim positioning.
Victims of bullying and relational aggression often deny their vulnerability in spite of obvious marginalization. This may be understood as a reaction to the inertia embedded in the ambivalence of claiming social legitimacy, while simultaneous opposing the informal evaluations that constitute the group boundaries, by appealing for external help. The hopes of (eventual) social belonging may in that sense work paradoxically as a strong agent in the denial of oppression and marginalization.
The article is theoretically informed by poststructuralist conceptualizations and grounded in cases of bullying and marginalization (one of them involving rape). One case is taken from the empirical data produced by the author and a research project on bullying among children (eXbus: Exploring Bullying in School). Two other cases are borrowed from publications of respectively B. Davies from Australia and A. Evaldsson from Shweden.
The article opens insights into the bullying practices as negotiated on different levels of the social reality which the children and the young people live in and by. It opens insight into the paradoxical strategies for social survival taken up by victims – and into yet a complicating agent, namely the hope for social healing and compensation from the very group of peers which caused the oppression and pain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConfero: Essays on Education, Philosophy and Politics
Pages (from-to)36-79
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • bullying in school, bullying theory, relational aggression, victim positioning, victim dilemma, Mobning

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