School Bullying From A Sociocultural Perspective

Rachel Maunder, Sarah Crafter

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportConference Contributionpeer-review


School bullying is an important concern for children, parents, schools and policy makers and it has received a huge amount of research and media interest. Whilst there is growing knowledge obtained from empirical work about the nature, extent and effects of bullying, there are areas of complexity in the findings. We propose that one of the issues with bullying research is a lack of emphasis on the theoretical underpinnings which might go some way to explain these complexities. In this paper we will develop our thinking on the phenomenon of bullying using a sociocultural theoretical framework. In order to explicate this, we will provide a review of existing literature on school bullying around five main themes: 1) The problem of defining bullying; 2) The relational aspects of bullying 3) Evolution of bullying with cultural shifts 4) Bullying as a normalised practice; and 5) Bullying as part of someone’s life trajectory. We will review some empirical findings to highlight key issues, and present arguments from relevant sociocultural theories which could add insight in each case. We will also show how varying strands of research into bullying can be integrated together through adopting a sociocultural approach and provide explanations for findings identified in research literature. In the course of our paper, we will draw on three theoretical frameworks in order to justify and support our premise that bullying needs to be viewed in relation to social, cultural and historical factors: (i) Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1979); (ii) Community of Practice (Wenger, 1998); and (iii) the concept of leading activities (Beach, 1995). We will conclude by suggesting some implications for practice which arise from taking a sociocultural view of bullying
Original languageEnglish
Subtitle of host publicationPatchwork. Learning Diversities
EditorsAleksandar Baucal, Jelena Radišić
PublisherUniversity of Belgrade
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9788688803250
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2012
EventPatchwork. Learning Diversities - University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Duration: 31 Aug 20121 Sept 2012


ConferencePatchwork. Learning Diversities


  • Bullying
  • Schools
  • Peer group
  • Sociocultural


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