Bullying As Social Control: Prejudice and Discrimination Among Children

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:54 PM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Jamile GUIMARAES , Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Neia SCHOR , Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Isabel LIMA , Universidade Catolica do Salvador, Brazil
This study examines bullying as a form of control, surveillance and punishment of socially deviant behavior among children. This violent practice mobilizes regulation-powered rules that outline the limits and possibilities of what it means to be a boy or a girl. It is based on data from an exploratory ethnographic research in primary and secondary education schools in Brazil. It is argued that bullying is centered on complex power (gender, social class, race and sex) relations embedded in the broader sociocultural context, and particularly in children's cultures. The bully, along with a group of followers, enforces a prescriptive ideal. His or her performance classifies and naturalizes normality through symbolic aspects that act to produce and socially legitimize the socially established, ideal types. The 'popular' and 'successful' infuse desired attributes, and guide the actions of those who must live in constant fear of isolation and rejection. Noteworthy is the continuous effort by boys and girls towards the visually 'perfect', which is intensified by a celebrity-driven culture and their own exposure on social networks. The processes of identity formation and competition are marked by a differentiation from the abject. The Other is the self's regulating and identity referential. It directly affects subjectivities drifting from guilt to resignation, failure or hope of a future metamorphosis. As an example, there is the figure of the 'whore', who manages sexual regulation, and prompts a demand for prescriptive performances of femininity by the 'good girls'. Thus, the bullying-engendered game of violence segregates children territorially, and affirms and protects dominant identities, affiliations, representations and social roles.