Narratives of cyberbullying in New Zealand secondary schools : reconceptualising cyberbullying as a social practice : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Currently, dominant conceptualisations of cyberbullying in academic literature and the New Zealand mass media locate the issue within ‘problem’ and ‘deviant’ individuals. This often leads to intervention efforts being directed at the individual level. To date, there is a paucity of research which investigates how cyberbullying occurs in practice and little insight into how numerous individuals engage collectively in such practices. This research explores the structural relations which produce and reproduce cyberbullying behaviours. Sixteen students who had either engaged in cyberbullying and/or experienced cyber-victimisation participated in narrative interviews. Data was analysed through a combination of narrative and discursive methods, examining the dominant constructions of cyberbullying and the various subject positions made available through them, along with the associated material effects. Student stories were integrated to form one overarching narrative consisting of four sub-narratives: ‘It’s Kill or be Killed’, ‘Leaders of the Pack’, ‘Constructing the Other’, and ‘Hunting the Other’. The overarching narrative was then concluded with an epilogue titled, ‘Beyond Brutality’. Overall, these narratives produce and reproduce cyberbullying practices by partitioning social relations into ‘us’ (the ‘cyberbullies’) versus ‘them’ (the ‘cybervictims’). By locating the issue of cyberbullying within a wider culture, this research challenges dominant conceptualisations of cyberbullying as an individualistic phenomenon. The implications of these findings for clinicians, teachers, parents and the broader community, are discussed.
Cyberbullying, Social aspects, New Zealand, High school students, Attitudes