• Peer on peer abuse: safeguarding implications of contextualising abuse between young people within social fields

      Firmin, Carlene Emma (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-05)
      An existing body of research indicates that peer-on-peer abuse, involving the physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse of young people by their peers, is an issue of serious concern within the UK. Whilst a range of studies have explored the individual and familial vulnerabilities associated with this phenomenon, there is an increasing recognition of the need to also consider the relationship between young people‟s peer groups, and other pertinent social fields, to their experiences of such abuse. This thesis offers an original contribution to the field by explicitly seeking to develop this contextual approach. It applies an age-specific and gendered interpretation of Bourdieu‟s constructivist structuralism (and specifically the concepts of field, habitus and symbolic violence) to the analysis of nine cases where young people raped or murdered their peers. In doing so, it offers a unique, in-depth, exploration of the interaction between individuals and the social fields that they navigate, in the context of nine abusive incidents. This methodological approach demonstrates how harmful norms underpinning these incidents are informed by a multi-way interplay between various social fields and young people‟s reflexive engagement with this process. It is through this interplay that motives and power hierarchies are established, and gender, age, consent, culpability, vulnerability and ultimately safety, are socially constructed and experienced.