An ethnographic study of participant roles in school bullying

Thomas P. Gumpel*, Vered Zioni-Koren, Zvi Bekerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


An ethnographic study in a 10th grade remedial class was undertaken in order to discern patterns of school bullying. Twenty 10th graders were observed over the course of one academic year as they interacted with their peers and teachers. The observations helped us identify dispositional and situational factors which influenced participant roles. In-depth interviews of students involved in school bullying showed how participants interpreted and explained their classroom behaviors. The analysis of the data gathered allowed the identification of four main actor roles recognized in the existing literature on bullying-the pure victim, the pure bully, the provocative-victim, and the bystander-as well as the differentiation between aggressive bullies and the bully managers. Most roles fluctuated according to specific circumstances and often appeared to be moderated by the teacher's management style and contextual variables. Some pupils assumed different roles in different contexts, sometimes changing roles within or between episodes. Teacher personality and style also had an impact on the frequencies and types of aggression and victimization. The use of an ethnographic research paradigm is discussed as an important supplement to positivistic studies of school bullying.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)214-228
Number of pages15
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Bullying
  • Bystanders
  • Remedial education
  • Teachers
  • Victimization


Dive into the research topics of 'An ethnographic study of participant roles in school bullying'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this