Building Better Models to Understand Bullying

Authored by: Brian H. Spitzberg

The Routledge Handbook of Communication and Bullying

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138552357
eBook ISBN: 9781315148113
Adobe ISBN:


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There is surprisingly little agreement on what bullying is, how it should be measured, and how it should be theorized. This chapter examines the broad interdisciplinary landscape of bullying research and presents three heuristic architectonic constructs intended to provide some organizational order to the conceptual and operational research and theory of bullying. The concept generator separates bullying constructs into the type of technological modality modifiers (e.g., cyber, online, digital), type of code/target modifiers (e.g., communicative, psychological, social), type of contextual or criterion modifiers (relationship, fearful, power asymmetric), type of aggression (abuse, aggression, violence, harassment), type of coping strategies (unmoving, moving inward, moving outward), level modifiers (cultural, institutional, relational), and outcomes (physical, social, emotional). The dark side map provides some heuristic questions to guide potential theory. Finally, the operational model arrays various loci (motivation, knowledge, skills), directness (direct vs. indirect) and universes of generalization (e.g., time, dimension, rater) modes of measuring bullying. Together, these models are intended to provide a common working vocabulary for theorizing and studying bullying in the context of other forms of communicative aggression.

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