School Bullying and Power Relations in Vietnam

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Taking seriously the oft-made claim that power relations are central to school bullying, the dissertation focuses specifically on the interconnectedness of school bullying and power relations within the specific context of Vietnamese lower secondary schooling. The dissertation is based on extended ethnographic fieldwork in two lower secondary schools in the north-eastern Vietnamese port city of Haiphong. Drawing on participant observations, group and individual interviews with students and teachers, and questionnaire data, the dissertation questions the hitherto dominant understanding of bullying as proactively aggressive actions and instead shifts the focus away from individual behaviour and actions towards a more in-depth consideration of power relations and the role bullying plays within the institutional context of schooling. Rather than understanding power as something which is held by some individuals who abuse their power when bullying others, the dissertation adopts a Foucauldian approach to power, wherein power is not held but is rather exercised in strategic situations. In doing so, the dissertation illustrates how schools provide not only the setting for school bullying but also the disciplinary framework within which school bullying gains currency.

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