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"A very useful and up-to-date discussion of the social-emotional origins of bullying."
Thomas Scheff, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara
In her forceful social history, Bullying, Laura Martocci explores the “bully culture” that has claimed national attention since the late 1990s.
Moving beyond the identification of aggressive behaviors to an analysis of how and why we have arrived at a culture that thrives on humiliation, she critiques the social forces that gave rise to, and help maintain, bullying. Martocci’s analysis of gossip, laughter, stereotyping, and competition—dynamics that foment bullying and prompt responses of shame, violence, and depression—is positioned within a larger social narrative: the means by which we negotiate damaged social bonds and the role that bystanders play in the possibility of atonement, forgiveness, and redemption.
Martocci’s fresh perspective on bullying positions shame as pivotal. She urges us to acknowledge the pain and confusion caused by social disgrace; to understand its social, psychological, and neurological nature; and to address it through narratives of loss, grief, and redemption—cultural supports that are already in place.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
"Martocci’s book offers a new and exciting interdisciplinary and sociocultural approach to the serious and complex issue of bullying. Her approach focuses on the psychosocial dynamics of humiliation and shame—how to understand this relational process and how to change the behaviors that restore people’s relations and identities. Bullying is complex and multifaceted work. I am greatly impressed by Martocci’s analysis and framework, which draw from social science and social theory, social psychology, and psychoanalysis. I am certain that Bullying will have a wide appeal to both academics working in cultural studies and educators, practitioners, and clinicians working on this social problem."
E. Doyle McCarthy, Professor of Sociology at Fordham University
"Martocci’s book is both compassionate and impartial, balancing the emotion surrounding bulling with the integrity of her research.... Martocci uses her expertise in sociology to deconstruct the cultural, social, and historical factors that drive bullying—and give those who’ve been bullied a means to shun shame and reconstruct their identities. Bullying delves into the origins of bullying and identifies the path to healing. Martocci doesn’t brush off the problem or resort to pep talks; she proves that the best solutions dig to the root of the problem. By offering deep study and research into the many facets of bullying, she provides hope, showing how narrative writing allows people who’ve been bullied to structure their experiences and define themselves. For those whose sense of identity has been forced on them by others and whose day-to-day lives are run by shame and avoidance, this approach is powerful and life-giving.... Her tone is compassionate yet impartial, balancing the emotion of the subject and the integrity of research. Her interviews with people who have been bullied are insightful and heart-wrenching."
"Martocci offers a thought-provoking argument about the cross-sectional impact of humiliation, shame, and bullying. She critiques the very underpinnings of bullying as it relates to humiliation and shame by going beyond the typical discourse in which most bullying discussions exist within society and academia. In doing so, Martocci posits that individuals need to recognize the power of social exclusion and how it perpetuates bullying behaviors. Through a thoughtful and well-developed argument, she attempts to shift the way in which we view bullying in our society.... Martocci does a masterful job at framing a new lens through which to view the bullying problem in our society and schools."
Teachers College Record
"Martocci analyzes the modes by which people fall victim to bullying; actions that are the social norm but when taken too far, or when motives are cruel, can lead to great harm for victims.... This investigation into bullying was effective in helping the reader understand the societal and historical causes that have fostered a bullying society as well as explain the social aspects of bullying.... Martocci provides a well-written analysis of social factors and emotions that play a role [in bullying]. In this regard, she helps place important research in a broader context."
The Journal of Youth and Adolescence
"Laura Martocci’s focus in Bullying is on shame, its social roots, and its psychological and physiological effects. Her central premise is that discredited social performances, such as those experienced by victims of bullying, destroy the self through shame, which has no culturally approved outlet.... The interviews that are included work well to ground Martocci’s discussion in real experiences.... A key strength is her willingness to draw on research related to biology and neurophysiology that would likely be overlooked by many social scientists.... Martocci successfully demonstrates that a full understanding of social problems like bullying cannot be achieved through the perspective of the social or natural sciences alone. She offers social scientists a unique introduction into the social and biological effects of bullying on the self and the mechanisms by which an injured self may be reconstructed."
1. The Cultural-Historical Foundations of Bullying Culture
A Brief Synopsis of Cultural Change
Religion and Shame: The Historical Possibility of Redemption
The Socialization of Children and the Root of Contemporary Shame
Constructing a Social Problem: Bullying and the Double-Edged Sword of the Media
2. Social Forces and Bullying
Stereotypes and Categories
3. Shame and Identity
Shame: The Social Mechanics of a Social Emotion
Shame and Anger
The Psychodynamics of Anger and the Neurodynamics of Pain
Re-visioning Shame: The Strengths and Weaknesses of a New Paradigm
4. Grieving and Grief Work: Negotiating Social Pain and Personal Loss
Traditional Conceptualizations of Grief
New Models of Grieving and Grief Work
Bullying: A Special Case of Loss and the Pitfall of Rumination
Rumination and Depression: Social-Psychological-Neurological
A Final Note
5. Narrative Writing and the Reconstruction of Self
Storying the Brain
Expressive Writing: Integrating the Neural, the Social, and the Psychological
Storying Experiences: Writing Chaos and the Reclamation of Voice Memory
Narrating an Audience and Defining a Victim: The Paradox of Social Stories
A Final Note
6. Tying Up Loose Ends: Challenges to Bystanders, Challenges of Cyberspace
Everyone Else: A Breakdown of Bystander Responsibility
Cyberspace: New Dynamics, New Challenges, New Potentials
Postscript: Practical Suggestions
Appendix A: The Uniqueness of Self and Personal Biography
Appendix B: The Re-visioning of Liberation and Womanist Theologies
Appendix C: Scheff and Retzinger: The Redemptive Role of Communication?
Appendix D: Lyn Lofland’s "Threads of Social Connectedness?"
Appendix E: The Dynamics Underlying Expressive Writing: Why Does It Work?
Appendix F: Traumarama!, Seventeen Magazine, and Prepackaged Shame
Laura Martocci is a Sociologist and the Founder and Director of the S.A.R.A. Project® (Students Against Relational Aggression). Most recently, she was a faculty member and an Associate Dean at Wagner College.
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