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Title: Seeing through a Bourdieusian lens : a field-level perspective of anti-bullying interventions in a UK police force
Author: Callaghan, Deborah Lynn
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 754X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis contributes to our understanding of anti-bullying intervention (ABI) strategies. Situated in a UK police force, the study focused on the voices of three key agent groups that hold important yet different relationships with the ABIs in the participant police force. The research extends current understanding of how different groups with different constructs of bullying engage with the mechanisms in place to manage and control it. These three groups are referred to throughout the thesis as Creators, Disseminators and Users. Creators are primarily responsible for the ownership of ABIs, while Disseminators provide advice and guidance on the ABIs to the workforce, and the Users represent those targeted or accused of workplace bullying. This multi-agent perspective is important given that extant literature has focused predominantly on single-agent type groups. The study uses Bourdieu's theory of practice as a framework to reconcile the structure versus agency challenge and provides opportunity to understand the factors that shape attitudes and responses to bullying and the ABIs that are in place to manage and control it. Given that workplace bullying is complex, the Bourdieusian lens extends the opportunity to explore how these complexities are understood through individual, multi-level and socio-historical organisational contexts. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology, semistructured interviews were used to investigate the deep-level responses from this multi-agent perspective. The findings hold important implications for research and practice and extend current discussions in the workplace (anti)bullying field. Firstly, they suggest that contemporary ABI strategies may no longer fit the requirements of a modern police force. New recruits holding deinstitutionalised and individualistic career trajectories reject informal approaches to dealing with bullying at work that are favoured by those with longstanding careers in policing, in favour of more formalised ABI strategies. Secondly, the findings indicate that, beyond formal ownership of the anti-bullying strategies, the hidden organisational network predicated upon social alliances is a powerful mediator in shaping how the ABI strategy is understood and enacted. This extends current understanding of how bullying is maintained and moves discussions to the networked level of organisation. Thirdly, the use of gendered language applied at the individual and organisational levels of organisation were found to be influential in diminishing the value and role of the ABI. The findings further suggest self-seeking system abuse of the ABIs, particularly by those seeking promotion or whose work performance is negatively brought in to question. Finally, and importantly, the study also offers new theoretical insights in to the reported gap between ABI policy/strategy construction and implementation. Drawing on the concept of habitus, the study utilises habitus as a new way of understanding how different workplace demographics and policy/strategy developers create their own understanding of bullying at work and the mechanisms in place to manage it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral