Thesis Database

We have developed the following database of research theses on bullying from all academic institutions in the UK and Ireland. The aim of this database is to assist those who are interested in the field of bullying and want to see what research has already been done. We have attempted to ensure that we have included all relevant theses here; but if there is an omission please let us know by emailing

The database is here for information purposes. Those who want access to the texts of the theses need to contact the author, the relevant institution, or both.

Resilence in Schools for Pupils with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Townsend, Jessica C.
Canterbury Christ Church University

Section A: This section reviews literature regarding the validation of existing resilience measures within Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) populations. These groups are at enhanced risk of worse outcomes later in life; therefore resilience-enhancement is of particular importance. Despite their use within the literature, it is unclear whether mainstream resiliency measures are applicable within SEND groups. Nine validation papers were identified, largely demonstrating utility of measures with SEND populations. However, a number of methodological limitations mean firm conclusions cannot be drawn. Several methodological limitations are considered, along with discussions of the challenges and complexities of research in this area. Section B: This research investigated perspectives from stakeholders of specialist schools for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties on defining factors of resilience and the mechanisms involved in its promotion. A three- round Delphi survey was used to explore areas of consensus and divergence between students, carers, care staff and education staff across two schools. Overall, 153 stakeholders participated. Results indicated consensus across a number of statements covering both areas. These spanned a number of systemic levels, offering support for the socio-ecological model of resilience. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

“A Happy and Caring School”: Capturing the Voices of Dyslexic and Non-dyslexic Learners about Their Ideal and Actual School Experiences
Chua, Yong En Beatrice
University College London

The increase in the number of students with special educational needs (SEN) studying in mainstream schools in Singapore has led to growing development in inclusive education practices. However, there are few studies that have explored these students’ views about their schooling experiences and the barriers and support that they experience. This present study sought to explore the perspectives of dyslexic learners, their parents and educators on their views on an ideal school environment and actual mainstream primary school experiences. It was hoped that by finding discrepancies between the ideal and actual, the study would raise gaps in the provision and promote positive change in students’ mainstream school experience. Six pairs of dyslexic child-parent dyads, seven pairs of non-dyslexic child-parent dyads and 5 educators who have been in the support of dyslexic individuals in mainstream settings were recruited. All learners had either completed primary education or were in their last few months of completing primary school at the time of research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed that dyslexic learners had a greater emphasis on their physiological and safety needs to be met. In contrast, non-dyslexic learners placed a greater focus on developing mastery and gaining in-depth knowledge, while considering the physical aesthetic needs of the learning environment. Dyslexic learners sought to have schools that offered a safe and supportive environment where there are no bullies. Their parents sought for provisions that would build their confidence and school engagement. Dyslexic learners who were interviewed generally had a mixed school experience. Regardless of SEN, all dyslexic and non-dyslexic learners faced the cultural pressure to excel academically, and some experienced bullying and peer difficulties. While all learners found a significant adult at school, the overall support offered varied within and across school and was limited. As stressed by all participants (dyslexic and non-dyslexic) groups, joint efforts by parents, teachers, school leaders, the education system and the wider society is needed to improve inclusion and school experience for all learners. Implications for schools and educational psychologist practice, and recommendations for future research are considered.

Young people’s understandings of youth suicide: A qualitative study
Labor, Melanie Nicole
Trinity College Dublin

In Ireland, youth suicide is a serious public health issue accounting for approximately thirty percent of all deaths among young people aged between 15 and 24 years old. Youth suicide has received considerable attention from academics, policy makers and campaigners. Nonetheless, the phenomenon has commonly been approached from a singular medicalized perspective. By contrast, the youth perspective has received far less attention. Hence, this was a poorly understood topic. This study asked: what does youth suicide mean to young people in Ireland? The present study aims to gain a better understanding of the meanings of youth suicide, seeking to build a conceptual framework. This will be achieved by exploring participants’ individual understandings of suicide in relation to local community discourses, norms, values, and beliefs. This study makes an original contribution to suicidology by exploring the phenomenon from the youth perspective leading to greater conceptual clarity. This research offers an alternative reading of suicidality in addition to the dominant bio-psycho-medical model encouraging new approaches to suicide prevention. This study views suicide as a multifactorial phenomenon and that young people’s constructions of suicide are subjective. This research is underpinned by a symbolic interactionist theoretical perspective which asserts that meanings are socially constructed through one’s interactions with social phenomena. Hence, the meanings young people attribute to youth suicide are shaped by local norms, values and beliefs. This is a constructivist grounded theory study. Data were generated through qualitative interviews with 25 young men and women between 18 and 22 years old who lived in Dublin. Participants were selected based on the criteria that they were neither bereaved by suicide nor experienced suicidal ideation within the twelve months prior to the interview. Data was analysed simultaneously and iteratively. The study resulted in a conceptual framework through initial, focussed and theoretical coding consisting of five core categories: i) Perceptions of suicide; ii) Stigmatisation of suicidality; iii) Problems associated with suicide; iv) Explanations of suicide; and v) Help-seeking behaviour: barriers and facilitators. These categories are underpinned – primarily – by concepts of stigma and shame, as well as traditional understandings of gender.

‘I can breathe, finally’: pasts, presents and (imagined) futures of working-class young women and girls engaged in beauty education
Walters, Hannah
University of Glasgow

This thesis examines the social and educational experiences of working-class young women and girls engaged in vocational beauty education in the West of Scotland, with research taking place at three further education colleges. Through qualitative interviews with staff and students, supplemented with classroom observations, the pasts, presents and (imagined) futures of working-class girls are explored.

Taking a feminist-Bourdieusian theoretical approach, the school experiences of working-class girls are identified as a central driver for economic and educational inequalities later in life, with school having been experienced as a space of ‘networks of violence’ relating to fights, bullying and complicated, often hostile, relationships. These inequalities include the structuring of post-compulsory educational pathways which are highly gendered and classed, intergenerationally reproducing working-class women’s disadvantage. At the same time, and contrary to the ways in which vocational education tends to be criticised from both skills-based and feminist perspectives, the thesis (re-)examines beauty education in terms of valuable opportunities for social capital, and ‘use-value’, highlighting the creative, meaningful aspects of beauty education for working-class girls. Finally, participants’ imagined futures are examined. In particular, it is argued that uncertainty represents a key theme of discussions around imagined futures, which manifests as curbed ambitions based on current economic positions and class- and gender-informed plausibility structures. This final findings chapter also examines both the enduring power of the local habitus, as well as its evolution and reconfiguration, through participants’ narratives of aspirations, resistance and meaningful work.

In doing so, the thesis mobilises Bourdieusian concepts of violence (through the application of ‘networks of violence’); habitus and dialectical confrontation; and capital, as a means by which to explore working-class girls’ educational and social experiences, as well as their imagined futures and what structures these. In particular, it will be argued that the local (working-class, feminine) habitus of the participants of this study was in conflict with the institutional habitus of the school, yet aligned well with the institutional habitus at work in beauty learning spaces. The interplay of participants’ local habitus and its evolution is then explored in terms of how this tension impacts imagined futures for working-class girls.

Overall, this thesis contributes to contemporary discussions regarding the function of both class and gender in informing inequalities at work under late modernity, including the structuring of post-16 educational options, and transitions to work for young people. It also contributes to theoretical debates around the application of the ‘institutional habitus’, widening these discussions to include empirically-informed notions of institutional and local habitus alignment. Finally, and building on the work of feminist Bourdieusian scholars, this project contributes empirical data to theoretical discussions of value, in particular the notion of ‘use- value’ and its function for working-class young women and girls.

Transition to Clinical Practice
Coakley, Niamh
University College Cork

Background: According to extensive international research, medical graduates continue to face significant challenges as they transition from student to doctor. Contributory factors include issues with preparedness, support, workplace interactions and challenges to their health and wellbeing. While research to date, in the form of attitudinal information, and common qualitative themes, has afforded us some insight into this formative period, a contemporaneous exploration of the lived experience of transition to practice is lacking. To improve work readiness and ease the transition, focused interventions have been designed and implemented; however, an overview of the research activity into these interventions is also lacking. My thesis aims to address these gaps by achieving a deeper understanding and appreciation of the experience of the first year of practice, by exploring the lived experience of anticipation of practice, the experience over the first year and the experience of intra-professional mistreatment. I will also describe the evidence for interventions to support these doctors.

Methodology: For my longitudinal exploration of the lived experience of the transition, I used the contemporary phenomenological approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which aligns with my interpretivist/constructivist worldview. The methodological frameworks and guidelines of Arksey and O’Malley, Levac and the Joanna Briggs Institute informed my scoping review of the literature into transitional interventions.

Methods: I purposively recruited 14 recent medical graduates. I interviewed them prior to commencing work, regarding their experience of anticipation of practice, and again at the end of their first year with respect to their experience of transition over the year. Each participant recorded audio diaries during the year relating to their experiences. Interviews were recorded, and all data was transcribed verbatim and anonymised. Analysis was carried out using IPA to identify common themes in respect of my research questions. To explore the experience of intra-professional mistreatment during the transition I focused on the data of a subset of three participants. For my scoping review, I assembled a research team of experts. Using relevant terms, we searched Medline Ovid, Embase, PsycInfo, SocIndex, ERIC and CINAHL databases, handsearched key journals, and tracked citations to identify empirical papers describing the implementation and/or evaluation of interventions designed to address preparedness for practice. Papers were screened by abstract and title and then by full text using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data was extracted to address the focus of the review.

Results: The experience of anticipation of transition was characterised by the expectation of an abrupt transition, mixed feelings regarding commencing practice and strategic planning in anticipation of the challenges ahead. The hidden curriculum shaped participants’ understanding of what was expected of them and inspired dysfunctional strategies to meet these expectations. I identified overlapping stages in the experience over the first year. An initial emotional response, similar to the ‘transition shock’ described in newly graduated nurses was followed by an increase in confidence, challenges with workload, support and workplace interactions, and a final stage of rationalisation of the challenges encountered during the year. Distressing experiences of victimisation, disrespect and issues securing support from more senior doctors were described, which inspired some maladaptive behaviours. My scoping review revealed a lack of emphasis on real-patient care experiences, on the wellbeing of the graduate, or involvement of allied healthcare professionals, and a lack of standardisation regarding categorisation and terminology used to describe transitional interventions, with low level study design and evaluation.

Discussion: While the abrupt nature of the transition characterised the early experience of commencing work, beyond this, cultural, relational and contextual factors predominated. One way to alleviate the abrupt nature of the transition is to strengthen experience based learning as an undergraduate so that the role of senior medical student approximates that of newly qualified doctor. There is also a need for greater accommodation of the early transition period at organisational level. Deep cultural change is required to address the hidden curriculum and mitigate its negative effects. Interventions to address bullying and harassment, suboptimal supervision, issues with inter-professional collaboration and increased work intensity are also vital to improve the experience of transition to clinical practice. My findings have added to the extant knowledge relating to the transition to clinical practice and will inform undergraduate and postgraduate curricula and interventions to support this important period in the lives of medical graduates.

Cyberbullying in China: The connection between language and behaviour
Li, Wan-Qi
University of Nottingham

Cyberbullying refers to individual or group behaviours involving the use of offensive language online, and it is a global issue that causes serious social problems. Research on cyberbullying has thus emerged in several fields, such as psychology, sociology, computer science, and linguistics. However, studies of cyberbullying in China have met with limitations and challenges, despite cyberbullying there becoming a serious and prevalent problem, making China a meaningful case study for cyberbullying investigations. This thesis thus used a new combined theoretical framework, a Socio-ecological Framework with Language Feature and Management Approaches, to analyse cyberbullying language features and usages, cyberbullying motivations, and the variables affecting cyberbullying in the Chinese context. Based on its overall findings, this research also made some extrapolations to cognate social issues in order to discuss the consequences of cyberbullying, and to develop potential measures for detecting or regulating cyberbullying. The methodologies selected for this thesis were content analysis, social network analysis, and interviews; thus, the work is both qualitative and quantitative. Content analysis was used to examine cyberbullying language usage, formations, and features using an author-created 2,000-word database. Based on these results, social network analysis was applied to provide deeper insights into how contextual and sociolinguistic variables affect cyberbullying, while the interviews helped to gather additional views on cyberbullying, providing new ways to examine the challenges of regulating cyberbullying, as well as highlighting potential approaches to doing this. The main finding of this thesis is that not all cyberbullying words are inherently offensive; emotional and even ordinary words may have cyberbullying functions in context. Additionally, during cyberbullying, the context for communication, current events, and the forms adopted all affect the use of cyberbullying language. Both males and females both use a range of offensive words in cyberspace, and cyberbullying can affect any internet users, not only minors. The consequences of cyberbullying may also be more serious than those of traditional bullying. These findings were then adopted to draft a set of preliminary measures for addressing cyberbullying.

Essays on Labour Economics
Xia, Yiming
University College London

Employing exogenous variations from random classroom assignment and field experiment, this thesis investigates three topics. The first two topics focus on peer effects on educational outcomes and bullying behaviours in China, whereas the third paper evaluates a subsidized employment program in North Macedonia. Chapter 2 measures the spillover effects of parental migration using the sample schools in which 7th-grade students are randomly assigned to classes during the compulsory schooling period. I find that having additional 10 percentage points of left behind children in the class led to a decrease in total test score of 5 percentiles. The medium run peer effect (one year after they met) is mainly driven by short-run peer effect taken place in about 10 weeks after they met. In Chapter 3, using the same strategy, I show that the within-class inequality of family socioeconomic status (SES) contribute to number of bullies in the class, as students from lower SES distribution want to gain peer status while these at the top want to secure their status. Policy simulations imply an intervention on class assignment may help the school to reduce the bullying incidents via reducing the bullies. Chapter 4 evaluates the impacts of the SEP experiment in which applicants were randomly selected to attend job interviews. It provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for hiring an applicant. We find that attending the job interview led to more than 20 percentage point increase in employment and the effect persists at slightly lower percentage points afterwards. The programme’s effects are mainly concentrated among the most vulnerable groups.


The experience as a document: Designing for the future of collaborative remembering in digital archives
Delatte Espinosa, Marta
University of Hull

How does it feel when we remember together on-line? Who gets to say what it is worth to be remembered? To understand how the user experience of participation is affecting the formation of collective memories in the context of online environments, first it is important to take into consideration how the notion of memory has been transformed under the influence of the digital revolution. I aim to contribute to the field of User Experience (UX) research theorizing on the felt experience of users from a memory perspective, taking into consideration aspects linked to both personal and collective memories in the context of connected environments. Harassment and hate speech in connected conversational environments are specially targeted to women and underprivileged communities, which has become a problem for digital archives of vernacular creativity (Burgess, J. E. 2007) such as YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and Wikipedia. An evaluation of the user experience of underprivileged communities in creative archives such as Wikipedia indicates the urgency for building a feminist space where women and queer folks can focus on knowledge production and learning without being harassed. The theoretical models and designs that I propose are a result of a series of prototype testing and case studies focused on cognitive tools for a mediated human memory operating inside transactive memory systems. With them, aims to imagine the means by which feminist protocols for UX design and research can assist in the building and maintenance of the archive as a safe/brave space. Working with perspectives from media theory, memory theory and gender studies and centreing the user experience of participation for women, queer folks, people of colour (POC) and other vulnerable and underrepresented communities as the main focus of inquiring, my research takes an interdisciplinary approach to interrogate how online misogyny and other forms of abuse are perceived by communities placed outside the center of the hegemonic normativity, and how the user experience of online abuse is affecting the formation of collective memories in the context of online environments.

Investigating the Acceptability of the KiVa Anti-bullying Programme in a Special Educational Setting: A Mixed Methods Case Study
Liscombe, Rachel
Bangor University

Forty years of research has established bullying as a globally pervasive, adverse experience associated with a multitude of immediate and longer-term negative life outcomes. The school is identified as a site with a high concentration of bullying. As a result, a number of school-based anti-bullying interventions have been developed and implemented with the hope of reducing overall prevalences of the behaviour and negating its negative impact on a new generation. KiVa is one such school-based anti-bullying programme, developed and designed for national use in Finland in 2006. KiVa has since been subject to a number of cross-cultural investigations of transferability, efficacy and success.

To date, however, KiVa research, including several UK based studies, has been solely conducted in mainstream primary school settings. As a result, there are no reports on the use of the programme with a population of students with additional learning needs, despite evidence that these students are particularly vulnerable to both being bullied, and bullying others. The present case study is an attempt to address this gap in the literature, and follows the implementation of KiVa (Unit 1) over one academic year in the middle department (n = 46, ages 12–15) of a large special school in North Wales. Qualitative and quantitative data from teachers implementing the programme and students in receipt of the programme are included.

Teachers participated in semi-structured interviews, and completed weekly Teacher Lesson Records as a measure of implementation fidelity, and a final Teacher Survey at the end of the academic year to explore their final perceptions of the programme. Students completed the online pre-and post-KiVa Pupil Survey, and ten students were invited to participate in focus groups at the end of the academic year. The research has two central aims; the first, to assess the feasibility of implementing KiVa in this novel setting and document any adaptations necessary for implementation, and the second, to investigate programme impact on students with additional learning needs in this setting, together these aims help to determine the acceptability of KiVa in this novel setting.

Though feasibly implemented in this setting, KiVa required a number of minor adaptations to improve intervention-setting-fit, and a number of more fundamental programme changes which may have negatively impacted programme success and student outcomes. Declines in students’ perceptions of school climate and increases in student self-reported victimisation and cyber victimisation are observed, however teachers believed that KiVa also led to positive developments in terms of students personal, social and emotional learning, and may therefore meet positive though unintended needs of this student population. Results suggest mixed acceptability in this setting. Limitations of the present research are discussed, followed by avenues of future research raised by the results gathered.

Perceptions of inclusion: A study of children with autism in the Primary School playground
Young, Laura Jane
University of Southampton

Children with a diagnosis of Autism experience difficulties in social   communication and are vulnerable to bullying and social exclusion in mainstream schools. The importance of educating all children in an inclusive learning environment is enshrined in both national and international legislative policy (UNESCO, 1994; Department for Education, 2015). Yet, the numbers of children with Autism currently facing exclusion from their mainstream schools are disproportionate compared to children with other Special Educational Needs (SEN) (Department for Education, 2018; Ambitious about Autism, n.d.(a)). As a construct, ‘Inclusion’ is multi-dimensional and is expressed through full participation in the wider community, a sense of belonging and being part of a wider social group (Farrell, 2000). There is ambiguity regarding how this concept operates in practice. How children relate to others and the social repertoires they display are likely to be a core component to effective inclusion. Peer-Mediated Interventions (PMIs) have been used to promote the social skills of children with Autism. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to examine the evidence from eighteen single-subject experimental designs (SSEDs). These studies examined the effectiveness of PMIs on improving the social outcomes of children with Autism. The review made an original contribution by using the ‘What Works Clearinghouse’ (WWC) Design Standards for evaluating SEDs (Kratochwill et al., 2010). All studies reviewed showed positive findings, yet conclusions drawn were tentative. There was considerable variability across the studies regarding the role of peers. Generalisability of findings were limited by a lack of long-term follow-up data. Outcome measures were focused on behavioural modification, and although helpful, over-simplified the complex nature of social interaction. The conclusions from the systematic review identified the need to further explore peers’ perceptions and the contextual environment in which inclusion is practiced. Chapter Two focused on exploring the experiences and perspectives of children with Autism, their peers and their teachers in the social environment of the school playground, and examined how inclusion operated in this context. Using a qualitative case study design and semi-structured interviews, children with autism, their peers and their teachers were interviewed in three different Primary Schools (n= 39). To capture peers’ perspectives of autistic behaviours, modified vignettes were used as a stimulus for discussion (Butler & Gillis, 2011; Matthews et al., 2015). Findings suggested that children’s experiences of playground inclusion were more alike than different for all child participants. Specific environmental barriers to inclusion were identified as lack of structure in the playground, and within-child factors such as difficulties in emotional regulation and social communication. Facilitators were identified as increased adult support and a wider range of play equipment for some children with autism, although the need to recognise the individuality of each child was highlighted. Peers’ understanding of autistic behaviours presented in the vignettes were variable and included hostile attributions (Dodge, 2006). Further research could explore the development of peer attributions of autistic behaviours and examine how these directly impact upon peer interaction in the playground. Implications for practice were highlighted, including the need to reflect about how EPs can support schools in educating children and staff about autism and how our attributions of difference can affect our behaviour towards others.


Evaluating the implementation of the MindOut Social and Emotional Wellbeing Programme in Irish post-primary schools
Dowling, Catherine
National University of Ireland Galway

Aims: The overarching aim of this thesis was to evaluate the implementation of the MindOut social and emotional learning (SEL) programme with disadvantaged post-primary school students (15-18 years old) in Ireland. This study was conducted in three phases, each of which have been published. Phase 1 aimed to evaluate the immediate impact of the MindOut programme on students’ social emotional skills, mental health and wellbeing and academic outcomes. Phase 2 aimed to examine variability in implementation quality and to identify factors that contributed to this variability. Phase 3 aimed to determine how implementation quality impacted on programme outcomes.

Methods: The study employed a cluster-randomised controlled design with mixed methods approaches. A total of 675 students from 32 disadvantaged schools participated at baseline and data were collected from students and teachers before, during and following programme delivery. Phase 1 employed linear mixed models (LMM) to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme on students’ outcomes. Phase 2 used process measures to determine schools’ level of implementation quality across four implementation dimensions, and to identify factors that contributed to implementation quality. Phase 3 employed LMM’s to assess the relationships between the implementation data and outcome data across three time-points and between three treatment groups (high-implementation, low-implementation and control).

Results: Phase 1 demonstrated significant improvements in students’ social and emotional skills: reduced suppression of emotions (p=0.035), use of more positive coping strategies [reduced avoidance coping p=<0.001) and increased social support coping p=0.044)] and mental health and wellbeing: reduced levels of stress (p=0.017) and depressive symptoms (p=0.030) and reduced anxiety scores for female students (p=0.044). Phase 2 detected variability in implementation quality between schools and assigned eight schools to both the high- and low-implementation groups. Influencing factors were categorised into five themes: Programme Factors, Participant Factors, Teacher Factors, School Contextual Factors and Organisational Capacity Factors. Phase 3 revealed significant positive programme effects at post-intervention for the high-implementation group only (reduced suppression of emotions [p=.049]; reduced avoidance coping [p=.006]; increased social support coping [p=.009]; reduced levels of stress [p = .035] and depressive symptoms [p = .025]. At 12-month follow-up, reduced avoidance coping [p=.033] was the only sustained outcome.

Conclusions: Overall, these findings demonstrate that the MindOut programme can be effective in producing positive outcomes for participants, particularly those students of disadvantaged status. However, these positive outcomes were only evident in schools that implemented the programme with high-quality, signifying the importance of implementation quality in the overall success of a programme. The findings from this study have clear implications for policy, practice and future research and highlight a number of important factors to enhance implementation quality and strengthen programme outcomes.

Can education policy make children happier? A comparative study in 33 countries
Marquez Merino, Jose Manuel
University of Leeds

There is an increasing academic and policy interest in subjective well-being (SWB). However, the questions of whether and how public policy can promote children’s SWB remain understudied. This thesis aims to reduce this gap by studying the association between education policy and students’ SWB, with a focus on life satisfaction (LS). To quantitatively study this question, this thesis analyses data on 15-year-old students in 33 countries that participated in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study. The analysis draws on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of child development and it is conducted by using a range of advanced quantitative methods, mainly multilevel regression. This thesis presents analysis demonstrating an association between several education policy-relevant factors and students ́ LS, which is particularly prominent –and observed in almost all countries- for schoolwork-related anxiety, bullying and parents’ emotional support in relation to school. Results also indicate that schools may play an important role in shaping students’ LS. This is supported by evidence that these associations tend to vary by school, by evidence on the existence of school effects in almost all countries, and by the finding that a proportion – substantial in some countries- of the variation in students’ LS is explained by differences between schools. Moreover, findings suggest that school type and school peers’ characteristics can be important to students’ LS too. In addition, in many countries, the links between schools and education policy and students’ LS differ for girls and boys and for students of different socio-economic status. Finally, in all the analyses described above, there are significant differences across countries. Overall, this thesis makes key contributions to our understanding of whether and how children’s SWB can be influenced by schools and education policy, supporting calls that education policy should also be assessed in terms of its impact in children’s SWB.


Workplace Bullying in Primary Schools: Teachers’ Experience of Workplace Bullying: An organisational response perspective
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen
University of Limerick

The aim of this doctoral research is to contribute to the growing body of knowledge concerning workplace bullying by considering the help-seeking experiences of targets of bullying and organisational responses to their complaints. A phenomenological research design was adopted. Twenty-two Irish primary school teachers (7 male, 15 female) self-selected for interview. Data were analysed utilising an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis framework.

All those interviewed had made complaints in accordance with the nationally agreed procedures stipulated to address workplace bullying in their schools. Redress procedures comprises several stages. All had engaged in stage one and two of the official complaints procedures; and all had availed of counselling, with most engaging with the recommended employee assistance service (formerly known as ‘Care Call’ now Medmark). Some participants had ceased engagement at stage 2, while other participants who had proceeded to stage three, ceased engagement at this juncture. Further participants proceeded to stage 4, of whom two are currently proscribed from returning to their posts due to ongoing disputes based upon retaliation for complaints, which comprised challenges to their fitness to work.

It is significant that no participant expressed satisfaction with the outcome of exercising agency and engaging with redress procedures. In fact, complaints procedures served as technologies of power for bullies who launched counterattacks. This doctoral study traced the pre-action, action, response, and overall consequences for the teacher as the target of workplace bullying describing targets’ resistance within the context of complex social interactions and considered possible supportive, preventative, and resolution strategies.

The resultant approach has wide-ranging implications for the present pernicious practices, and it identified a number of proposals for professional practice and modifications in the way in which workplace bullying may be countered and contained. This thesis contributes to discourses of agency in workplace bullying and challenges both researchers and policymakers to fully elucidate the various issues surrounding pathways to redress for bullying. In addition through its emphasis on the power dynamics which characterize redress it extends the limited available literature in the substantive area about the ineffectiveness of complaints procedures.

Moreover, despite the research limitation respecting the modest scale of the study involving self-selecting teachers, the richness of the data elicited underscores the problematic and contingent assumptions underpinning anti-bullying policies and procedures which purportedly address workplace bullying within small organisations.

An Garda Síochána: Culture, challenges, and change
Marsh, Courtney Nicole
Trinity College Dublin

An Garda Síochána: Culture, challenges, and change is an exploration and understanding of the organisational culture of An Garda Síochána Ireland’s National Policing Organisation. While the Gardaí or officers are often in the news media, there has been very little academic research on who and what this organisation is. On an abstract level, organisational culture provides the framework of the basic rules necessary to function, or survive, in an organisation. Police organisational culture provides an identity to officers that performs this same function. On a more specific scale, internationally, police culture has been understood to consist of masculinity, discrimination, exclusion, suspicion, isolation, solidarity/loyalty, moral and political conservatism, pragmatism, cynicism, aggression, negative views of supervision, selective enforcement of the law, and a prioritisation of the crime fighter role over service-oriented role. However, this understanding has been gathered from countries with very different policing organisations to Ireland. While the international research in police organisational culture is quite vast, there is relatively little to fill this area in Ireland, particularly when you exclude historical accounts of Irish policing and Northern Ireland. Of those studies that have been identified, very few specifically look at the organisation’s culture. Further to this, many of those studies are limited in numerical and geographic scope. While the relatively narrow field has limited a grounding for the findings of this study, they do provide a starting point for identifying what gap needs to be filled, namely an expansive study on the organisation s culture that is not confined to a small number of Gardaí or one geographic region. This considered, the gap identified in the Irish literature is one facet of this research. Naturally if there if the research in this area is underdeveloped in Ireland, then there is also a missing piece of where Ireland situates itself in the international policing literature. The Garda are a unique policing organisation, as such, this type of police culture has not been studied extensively internationally. One of the aims of this research is to understand where Ireland positions itself in the wider world of police organisational culture literature. However, in order for this to be done, and the primary aim of this research, you first need to gain a deeper understanding of what the culture of the Garda is and how this impacts relations within the organisation as well as their relationship with the communities in which they work. While the area of police organisational culture can be quite abstract, some of the more specific aspects of the culture this research aims to understand are in organisational relationships, accountability, and managing change. Though the aims listed thus far are wholly substantive, there is also remit for connecting these findings to a theoretical basis in social learning, social identity, and rotten apple theories to further understand how the culture of the Garda is transmitted throughout the organisation and over time. While this research fills a theoretical and empirical gap, there is also a methodological innovation in how the data was obtained and analysed. Certainly underutilised in Ireland, document analysis in the area of police organisational culture is also underutilised internationally. The data used in this research was obtained from eight documents, consisting of several thousands of pages of text, and spanning a 30-year period. The data from the documents was thematically analysed and a story was constructed based on the data to provide a deeper understanding of what the Garda culture is. While the documents of course contained the data necessary to provide an understanding of Garda culture, perhaps one of the more advantageous contributions of this methodology is the extended observation period provided that allowed for an analysis of the Garda culture over time, something not typically possible in other data collection methods due to their point in time collection nature. This research has contributed many key findings to the understanding of Garda culture. The first approach was to look at the organisation s culture from a top down level and what the relationship between the organisation and its members is. The findings in this area included what type of policing organisation the Garda is and what resources the organisation provides to its members (these resources included both physical resources as well as services provided). From this discussion stemmed a reconceptualization of the traditional types of policing organisations (i.e., militaristic and community/service oriented) as the Garda does not wholly fit in to either. Beyond this, the resources were examined in relation to making do with what little they are given despite increased demand for their services as well as how Gardaí are then left to cope with the added burdens. In particular reference to mental health provisions, how the organisation facilitated, or rather did not, practical and beneficial mental health services was looked at. Further to this organisational relationship from a top down perspective was an understanding of both internal and external organisational relationships and how these are influenced by the training Gardaí receive. These included how the Gardaí interact with each other on an individual level, encompassed within this is the idea that silence is necessary for survival in the organisation, as well as the Gardaí’s relationship with and to the communities they work in. In terms of training, as well as in conjunction with the idea of socialisation and Social Learning Theory embedding these characteristics into the organisation s culture and its members, it was found that the Gardaí are separated from the community from the outset of their training. This strengthened the earlier proposed idea that the Garda do not truly fit into a community oriented policing style. Internally, the relationships among Gardaí were examined both in relation to how they reacted to external and internal threats and it was concluded that the Gardaí overwhelmingly value self-preservation over loyalty. Chapter seven looked closer at accountability and blame within the organisation and how the lack of accountability on a wide scale coupled with the ever present blame culture impacts on Gardaí behaviour and actions. Though some of the examples given were seemingly indicative of individual level actions, it was argued that, stemming from Rotten Apple Theory, these behaviours are manifestations of organisational level behaviours that have been observed and learned by individual members and acted out based on this observation. In essence, even when behaviour was observed at an individual level, it was still reflective of organisational culture as rotten apples do not form in isolation but rather stem from rotten orchards. The final chapter brought the findings together with an added theoretical lens and the previous Irish and international literature to more fully understand where the Garda, and Ireland, fit into a larger scope of police organisational culture. It was reflected that while Ireland has always been considered quite different to many other international policing organisations, the more recent literature, particularly from the UK, seems to be more in line with some of the Irish characteristics found in the Garda culture. However, what this means for police culture, as a whole, has still not been fully explored.


Comparison of Job Satisfaction between Irish-born and Immigrant Employees in Non-Supervisory Positions in Dublin’s Pubs, Bars and Restaurants
Hadzikadunic, Dino
National College of Ireland

In the last few decades, the immigration of the workforce to more developed countries has noted a significant increase. That trend did not avoid Ireland as well. The increased levels of immigration to Ireland has followed the strong economic growth in the 1990s. In 2019, there were 622,700 non-Irish national residents in Ireland accounting for 12.7% of the total population with many of them starting their employment in Ireland through jobs in hospitality. In light of these numbers, it is relevant to examine immigrant’s job satisfaction within the industry. There have been numerous studies on job satisfaction of immigrants, as well as on the overall workforce in the hospitality sector. However, the literature did not compare job satisfaction levels between host nationals and immigrants employed in nonsupervisory positions in pub, bars and restaurants.

The aim of this research was to examine whether differences in job satisfaction between Irish-born and immigrant employees existed in positions which are already recognised for low levels of job satisfaction and to define the categories which made up the biggest difference between the two groups of employees.

A quantitative approach was used for this research with 78 questionnaires completed in full. In the survey, the author has used the well-established Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire which is known for its reliability. The sample was taken by the convenience sampling method. The gathered information was analysed by using IBM SPSS 26 software.

The research has found that immigrant’s job satisfaction is significantly lower compared to their Irish-born employees. The biggest difference between the two groups is shown in the categories of co-workers, responsibility, and supervision−human relations.

The findings will help to fill the above-mentioned gap in existing research and can be used by hospitality managers in order to recognise and reduce the gap in job satisfaction between their immigrant and Irish-born employees.

Exploring young people’s digital sexual cultures through creative, visual and arts-based methods
Marston, Kate
Cardiff University

This thesis explores how digital technologies such as social media, smart devices and gaming platforms are shaping young people’s sexual cultures. While the majority of research on young people’s digital sexual cultures has maintained a narrow focus on risk and harm, and limited what digital practices are considered relevant and for whom, this thesis contributes to a growing body of scholarship that seeks to support children and young people to navigate the complexities of an ever-changing digital sexual age. I worked with a socio-economically and culturally diverse sample of twenty-five young people aged 11 – 18 years from England and Wales. Rather than focusing on a pre-defined set of digital practices, I set out to foster a creative, curious and open-ended approach that allowed participants to identify which digital practices mattered to them. Over a period of fifteen-months, I employed a range of creative, visual and arts-based methods in group and individual interviews to explore a flexible set of core issues including digital worlds, relationships, networked body cultures and media discourses. Taking inspiration from feminist posthuman and new materialist concepts of ‘assemblage’, ‘affect’, ‘phallogocentricism’ and ‘feminist figurations’, I trace normative articulations of gender and sexuality as well as activate different ways of seeing and relating to young people’s digital sexual cultures. My data highlights the enduring force of heteronormative and phallogocentric power relations in young people’s digital sexual cultures through the publicisation of intimate relations online, social media’s visual culture of bodily display and gendered harassment online. However, it also maps ruptures and feminist figurations that displace vision away from the heteronormative and phallogocentric mode. I illustrate how young people’s digital sexual cultures can be the site of unexpected and unpredictable relations that move beyond normative notions of (hetero)sexuality and towards possibilities for re-imagined sexualities that exceed heteronormative and phallogocentric norms.

Men who report difficulties in adult relationships and the links they make to their boarding school experiences: A thematic analysis
Harris, Craig
University of Leicester

Systematic Literature Review: Twenty-six articles investigating the psychological experiences of boarding students were identified and subjected to a systematic analysis. Some studies indicated that boarders experience higher levels of psychological distress (especially soon after boarding transition), experience greater incidences of bullying victimisation, engage in more bullying perpetration, and may be at a higher risk of presenting with eating disorder psychopathology. However, other results reported general parity between wellbeing outcomes for boarders and non-boarders, or modest benefits for boarders measures of wellbeing and personality characteristics. Analysis highlighted the lack of research conducted in UK boarding schools, and the need for further research with extended follow-ups. Limitations of the literature and recommendations for professional practice and future research are discussed. Research Paper: Thematic analysis was used to explore the experiences of male ex-boarders who had identified experiences of difficulties in relationships. Three superordinate themes were presented: Disempowerment depicted how participants felt powerless or controlled by others, and the impact this had in later relationships; Suppressing aspects of self and personality related to how participants described hiding emotions or parts of their personality to ‘get by’, and how these strategies presented in adulthood; and A process of recovery was concerned with how participants sought ways to ‘recover’ from their experiences. Findings were discussed in relation to existing theory and literature and highlighted the importance for educational and care institutions to recognise ideological powers, as well as the use of therapeutic interventions that are underpinned by theories of attachment.

Colbeck High School: A figurational analysis of relationships, identities and behavioural norms in male Physical Education
Mierzwinski, Mark Francis
University of Leeds

Physical Education (PE) is the most sex-differentiated and gender stereotyped subject in the school curriculum in England. The long tradition of gendered PE is not reflected in a more contemporary gender-neutral PE curriculum. This disparity is part of a broader theory-practice gap centred on differences between how PE should be and how PE is. Therefore, in this thesis, relationships, identities and behavioural norms in Male PE (MPE) are examined as they are, and not how they should be. A figurational sociological approach is adopted to examine gendered social processes, power relations and masculine embodiment within MPE. The data discussed in the thesis is from a six-month ethnography in Colbeck High School, a religious-affiliated mixed-sex secondary school within the North-East of England. Key findings identified how both enabling and constraining social processes within MPE were configured and subsequently internalised by boys along fairly binary gendered lines. Whilst MPE teachers contributed to this process through using gender slurs, boys’ gendered self-restraints were primarily driven by their desire to be part of, and maintain an affiliation with, the dominant ‘We’ group amongst their peers. In constantly negotiating their identities with the prevailing ‘We’- identity, boys appeared to exercise a more flexible and reflexive self-control when restraining or expressing their emotions according to often gendered social circumstances. This conscious behaviour was evident in boys’ frequent engagement in banter, a behavioural norm which carried much social significance within MPE. Banter was found to be premised on necessary levels of mutual identification and mutual respect, and to differentiate it from inappropriate comments or verbal bullying, boys had to be socially and emotionally aware of their, and other people’s, feelings and intentions. Given this increasingly expected heightened levels of social awareness and emotional sophistication, a case is made to reconfigure academic conceptions of banter from being an immature behaviour to banter as being a sophisticated form of communication. These findings contrast with previous research that tends to overly focus on boys’ physical behaviours as influential in their power relations with peers and key markers of their gender identity by illustrating the increasing importance of verbal exchanges as symbolic forms of power. Furthermore, through identifying the levels of consciousness present in boys’ behaviour and linking this to their exhibiting of a third nature psyche, critiques of attempts to attach boys’ emotional expressions to their innate biological sex or suggestions that boys’ aggression signifies regressions to instinctive impulses are provided. Placing these key findings within broader civilizing processes it seems that long-term shifts from physical to more verbally centred power relations has impacted young people at relational, identity and behavioural levels. There appears to be a heightened need for young people to engage in sophisticated forms of communications and emotional self-restraint before entering adult social worlds, and the MPE figuration provides an illustrative example of this.

Exploring student victimisation and wellbeing in the UK higher education context
Harrison, Emma Dawn
Keele University

Research into student bullying in Higher Education (HE) has been limited and most is based on childhood bullying research. Bullying in HE could disrupt student mental health and wellbeing at university – a topic that has recently gained traction. Additionally, marginalised student groups may be more at risk (e.g., LGB+). Focus groups were used to explore students’ conceptualisations of bullying and identify differences between childhood and emerging adulthood (EA) bullying behaviour. Themes identified were power imbalances; tactics of HE bullying; bullying for personal or social gain, and; justifications and minimisations for not intervening (bystander intervention). Examples of bullying behaviour from this first study supplemented the childhood and adult bullying literature to create a new HE bullying scale. The scale was tested on two samples to identify the factor structure (N = 243, N =304). The third survey study (N = 441) adopted a correlational design using the developed scale alongside measures of wellbeing, childhood victimisation, and potential mediator variables, such as university belongingness, social connectedness, and Internal Working Models (IWMs). Group differences were found on victimisation, IWMs, social connectedness, and university belonging, especially for SES and sexual orientation, evidencing the disadvantages that minority groups may suffer within HE. Regression-based path-analyses found that IWMs, university bullying, social connectedness, and university belonging mediated the links between childhood victimisation and current wellbeing. Finally, UK university anti-bullying policies were examined. Policy length and quality varied between universities and a review of content is recommended based on the earlier study findings. This research has produced a new university bullying scale and has also explored mechanisms through which childhood victimisation may have negative effects on current HE student wellbeing. The importance of self- and other- beliefs as well as the social context (e.g. belonging) is stressed.

An Exploration of the Educational Experiences of Dyslexic School-Aged Students
Morgan, Linsey
Lancaster University

This research aims to develop knowledge of dyslexia from the subjective experiences of dyslexic students currently attending mainstream, state schooling in England. As the importance of identifying dyslexia early within a student’s schooling, to prevent educational failure, is generally agreed (Rose 2009) research within the field of dyslexia remains predominantly concerned with neurological and cognitive studies of causation, identification, and remediation. Consequently, to date, there is limited research designed to gain an understanding of dyslexia through the lived experiences of dyslexic individuals. The current research draws upon twenty-one school-aged students and explores their lived experience of being identified and labelled as dyslexic and the effects of dyslexic difficulties within their schooling. The research was guided by the interactional approach to disability (Shakespeare 2014). The research was guided throughout by a qualitative approach to data collection. The data was derived using a digital communication aid entitled ‘Talking Mats’ and follow-up semi-structured interviews. The dyslexic students who participated in this research came from one mainstream state secondary school and three mainstream state primary schools in England. The data collected was analysed using thematic analysis and three overarching themes emerged. These were: Diagnosis, dyslexic students’ experiences of the process of being identified and labelled as dyslexic, Dyslexia, the difficulties experienced by dyslexic students in the classroom and Discrimination, dyslexic students’ experiences of discrimination and the effects within schooling. The students’ experiences suggest that regardless of the age of being identified and labelled as dyslexic, the experience of the assessment process remained a challenging experience, that did not aid their understanding of dyslexia. Despite their diagnosis, the students continued to experience a range of difficulties predominantly with reading, spelling, and handwriting. Although the students requested the use of reasonable adjustments to lessen their difficulties this was often denied. This research highlighted a multitude of barriers these dyslexic students experienced within school, for example, discrimination, humiliation, and punishments.