STIGMA – Bullying Research Project

The bullying research project STIGMA takes its name from the Greek word “stigma”, meaning a "mark" or "character". Social stigma is a sign of shame or disgrace, or reproach characteristics). In bullying, there is often a high degree of stigmatization.

In STIGMA, we seek to draw participant maps, get an overview of the bully forms currently in use, as well as uncover the various processes that occur in the cases. What mechanisms come into play that worsen a case? What contributes to the solution? How are the different actors in bullying cases affected? There is some research on how bullying affect the victim, but much less about the other participants’ (bullies, bystanders) experiences of the incidents.

In addition to interviews with various informants, case documents will constitute our key data.

A key objective of the project is to develop more knowledge about how schools and school owners can better uncover bullying, and better get to solve problems.

STIGMA collects data from the Learning Environment Project, a nationwide governmental measure targeting schools showing persistently high numbers of bullying in the annual survey on pupils self-reported experiences of their learning environment. Through the Learning Environment Project, schools receive increased expertise and guidance, to identify and stop bullying and to prevent bullying through stronger classroom management and systematic work in school.

STIGMA consists of 3 research projects:

  1. Complexity in Bullying Cases. In this project, we seek deeper knowledge of the dynamics that unfold in an established case of bullying. Through qualitative interviews with various actors in cases of bullying (victims, bullies, parents, teachers, principals, classmates), we seek to bring out the different perspectives in a bullying case: When did the bullying start? How did it start? How did it develop? Do all parties in the case perceive the incidents as bullying? What coincides between the different perspectives? What is deviant?
  2. The History of a Bullying Case. Why do some cases of bullying persist over several years? Through interviews with principals, and by reviewing documents in bully cases, we seek to understand what it is that contributes to lengthy bullying cases.
  3. An International Perspective on Teachers' Perspectives of Social Interaction in the Classroom. In this project, we conduct a comparative study of teachers' perceptions of social interaction between pupils and between pupils and teachers in the classroom. We show short films depicting various social interactions that happen in the classroom, to teachers in Hong Kong, mainland China and Norway. Through interviews with these teachers, we seek to understand to what extent the different cultures are important for the interpretation of bullying.

The research group
The Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education initiated STIGMA, and Professor Erling Roland leads the project. The research group consists of 10 people at/or associated with the center. The project has a partnership with the Anti-bullying Centre at Dublin City University.