Juridification and the Ungendering of School Bullying

  • Paul HortonEmail author
  • Camilla Forsberg
Part of the Young People and Learning Processes in School and Everyday Life book series (YPLP, volume 2)


In this chapter, we address the juridification of school violence in the Swedish context by focusing in particular on the issue of school bullying (skolmobbning) and gendered perceptions of difference. Drawing on Swedish legal and educational documents, we consider the ways in which school bullying has been ungendered through its legal separation from discrimination (diskriminering) and harassment (trakasserier), and its reduction to a form of degrading treatment (kränkande behandling) against someone’s dignity. We discuss how this legal ungendering of school bullying as something unconnected to issues of social difference is in keeping with a shift within school bullying research from being distinctly gender blind to being somewhat gender essentialist. Drawing on the work of gender researchers, we problematize dominant conceptualisations of sex/gender ‘roles’ through a discussion of power relations. In doing so, we argue that the juridification of school bullying serves to apportion blame to the individual school children involved, without adequately accounting for the importance of dominant gendered societal norms and the extent to which school bullying may often be a form of ‘normative cruelty’ that is socially learned and underpinned by dominant gendered discourses. Furthermore, we argue that such an account is necessary for understanding bystander behaviour and the ‘social exclusion anxiety’ that fuels and perpetuates negative behaviour in schools.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioural Sciences and LearningLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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