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New scholarship: License to bully: rites of passage in higher education

  • Ana Cristina da Silva
  • Minoo Farhangmehr
  • Marjan Sara Jalali
Original Article

Abstract

This study examines the existence of bullying behaviours in the relatively under-studied setting of higher education institutions (HEI), and in the context of the initiation rites which in many countries come associated with entry into these institutions, in particular. Findings from our in-depth interviews with former, current and prospective university students indicate that bullying in universities exists, is closely intertwined with initiation rituals and their associated activities, and furthermore assumes various forms. This reality leads to a dissonance in respondents’ understanding and descriptions of the initiation rites – a conflict between the intended purpose of integration on the one hand, and the often oppressive practice of these rituals on the other. The initiation rites were furthermore perceived as legitimising and perpetuating otherwise unacceptable and overbearing behaviours. The findings indicate an important role for social marketing in helping mitigate bullying behaviours in initiation rituals, as well as creating upstream pressure for change by policy makers.

Keywords

Bullying Social marketing Higher education Initiation rites Hazing 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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